Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 6th, 2017
BluRay released: June 19th, 2017
Approximate running time: 120 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Japanese, LPCM Stereo Japanese
BluRay Release: Eureka Video
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £17.99 (UK)
Harmonium was written and directed by Kôji Fukada whose other notable films include, Hospitalité and Au Revoir L’Ete.
At the heart of this melodrama is a tale about concealing ones’ past and the deadly consequences that can befall on someone who dabbles in deceit. The narrative revolves around a family, a mother, a father and their daughter. And when we are first introduced into their world, it appears to a be a cohesive family unit that is living a relative tranquil life. Things quickly start to unravel for this family, when a man from the husbands past moves in with them. From there this man slowly gains the trust the daughter and mother. With the latter forming an attraction to the man, which leads to a moment of indiscretion. Unfortunately for the wife, her mental state deteriorates when she is overcome with grief due to a tragic event that leaves her daughter a mute cripple.
What starts off as a story about concealment, quickly shifts its focus towards the guilt that arose due to the aforementioned accident that befell the daughter. And nowhere is this more evident, then when it comes to how the mother character has become so overprotective of her daughter. That she won’t allow anyone to be alone with her since the accident. Then there is the father character who deals with his grief by retreating into his work.
Then there is the man from the husbands’ past, who the wife believes is responsible for what has happened to her daughter. Unfortunately for her, she has been unable to find some closure, due to him disappearing right after the aforementioned tragic event. And to complicit things further, the son he never knew he had due to going away from prison finds work with the couple that his father has caused so much pain and sorrow.
From a production standpoint, there is not an area where this film does not deliver and then some. The narrative is meticulously constructed and pacing is never an issue, as key moments are given an ample amount of time to resonate. The characters are well defined and the entire cast are all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s most memorable performance being Mariko Tsutsui (One Missed Call) in the role of the mother. She delivers an utterly convincing performance that perfectly captures her characters grief and fractured state of mind. And another strength of this film are its visuals, which do a superb job setting and reinforcing the foreboding mood.
Harmonium comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This transfer does a excellent job retaining this film’s intended look. Details look crisp, there are no issues with compression and black levels remain strong throughout.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Japanese and a LPCM stereo mix in Japanese. Both audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout. Range wise both audio mixes do a superb job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack. Included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (1 minute 44 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), an interview with actor Kanji Furutachi (29 minutes 6 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles) and an interview with screenwriter / director Kôji Fukada (25 minutes 50 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the interview with Kanji Furutachi include, his origins as an actor, his thoughts about various films that he has worked on, Harmonium and thoughts about his character, how he prepared for the role, key moments, Kôji Fukada, film festivals, international reaction to the film, what type of films he prefers to direct and the actor / director relationship.
Topics discussed in the interview with Kôji Fukada include, inspirations behind the film, screenplay verse what ends up in a film, the meaning of the title of the film, his creative process, the cast, the score, how this film was a French co-production and his thoughts about co-productions, film festivals and his creative influences.
Rounding out the extra is a booklet with cast & crew information, an essay about the film written by Jason Wood, Director’s Statement, an interview with Kôji Fukada and information about the transfer. Included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Harmonium gets an exceptional release from Eureka Video, highly recommended.