Japanese director Kōji Fukada’s celebrated films “Harmonium” and “A Girl Missing” recall Eric Rohmer in how they move to the cadence of everyday life, never overheating drama for drama’s sake, and even when they’re mixing in Hitchcockian genre elements.
But his latest film, the 2022 Venice Golden Lion nominee and Toronto International Film Festival favorite “Love Life,” channels Pedro Almodóvar and Douglas Sirk in its search for a good melodrama, even when the telling is as gentle as a whisper. Oscilloscope Laboratories will open the film, which takes a creative approach to depicting a grieving nuclear family, in New York on August 11 and Los Angeles on August 18. IndieWire shares the exclusive trailer below.
In “Love Life,” Taeko (Fumino Kimura) and her husband Jiro (Kento Nagayama) are living a peaceful existence in a small Japanese city with her young son when a tragic accident brings the boy’s long-lost father Park (Atom Sunada) back into her life. To cope with her pain and guilt, Taeko throws herself into helping her ex-husband, who is deaf and homeless.
As IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote last year, the movie is inspired by the 1991 Akiko Yano song of the same name — in which the Japanese singers croons, “Whatever the distance between us, nothing can stop me from loving you.” The film then “introduces us to a domestic idyll that it disrupts with a deceptive casualness typical of Fukada’s work. The bloom comes off the rose slowly at first, and then all at once in a single moment of everyday awfulness” in this portrait of a mother finding beauty in grief.
Ehrlich noted that Fukada has “found the perfect story for his probing but distant style. In that light, it doesn’t seem incidental that ‘Love Life’ is a story about distance — specifically the distance between people who reach for each other in the wake of a tragedy that strands them far away from themselves.”
Watch the exclusive trailer for “Love Life” below and look for it later this month.