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What a Wonderful Family! ("Kazoku wa Tsurai yo")

Canadian Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2016
  • 108 mins
  • DCP
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
Official Selection: Tokyo International Film Festival 2015, Hong Kong International Film Festival 2016, Festival du film asiatique de New York 2016

"One of the most entertaining films that I've seen this year." – Jaime Grijalba Gomez, SCREENANARCHY

Tomiko and Shuzo are the pillars of the Hirata clan: they have been married for 50 years, and live in the same house as their son, his spouse, and children, in a very traditional configuration. One night, however, the occasionally boorish Shuzo comes home after a night at the pub. He throws his socks on the floor, uncaring, and Tomiko hands him divorce papers in return. This sends shockwaves throughout the entire family: an intervention is staged, relatives must have their say, and a wide array of family problems come to light. Hilarity, as it tends to do, promptly ensues.

Living legend Yoji Yamada (the TORA-SAN series, TWILIGHT SAMURAI) reunites with the cast of his 2013 remake of Yasujiro Ozu’s seminal TOKYO STORY for this comedic tour-de-force. Ripping apart the Japanese family unit, only to lovingly put it back together, it is a brilliantly written comedy of manners, staged in ways that recall the best of Jacques Tati’s subtle slapstick and notorious attention to detail (characters tripping over themselves, or unexpected props being used for comedic effect). Importantly, WHAT A WONDERFUL FAMILY! provides an insightful look at the generational gap that molds traditional values through time, keeping the humour firmly rooted in the human drama at hand. Doing so, Yamada crafts another film in the spirit of Ozu’s lighter work (GOOD MORNING comes to mind), and provides nothing short of a late-career masterpiece, encapsulating, in one rip-roaring comedy, all the gravitas and playfully touching humanism one has come to expect from the Golden Age of Japanese cinema.

— Ariel Esteban Cayer