Director/writer: Koji Fukada
Cast: Kenji Yamauchi, Kanji Furutachi, Kiki Sugino, Kumi Hyodo, Erika Ono, and Bryerly Long
Rated: Not rated (brief nudity)
Original release date: 2010
Film is distributed by Film Movement | IMDb | Trailer
I’m always intrigued with other cultures and their way of life. I love learning about everything from the food, the beliefs, customs, and overall way of life. Movies are a great vehicle to give us a glimpse into societies we’d otherwise may never have exposure to. Hospitalité does just that as it delves into the quiet household of Mikio Kobayashi (Kenji Yamauchi) and his family.
Mikio lives a somewhat plain life along with his beautiful, and notably younger, wife, daughter, and his divorced sister. The family drama alone is fairly entertaining, but things get a little more exciting for the family when Kagawa (Kanji Furutachi) arrives. Kagawa claims to be the son of a financier who once helped Mikio’s printing business. Mikio has some recollection of this, so he feels obligated to be hospitable to Kagawa.
Before you know it, Kagawa invites himself to be a live-in employee along with his non-Japanese wife (we are never quite sure of her nationality). Thus the concept of hospitalité comes into play. The Kobayashi’s adapt around their new visitors, which both brings them closer and draws them apart in some respects. I think anyone who’s ever had an unwelcomed house guest can relate to this situation, and those who have know that it often can bring out the best and worst of us.
The film becomes more than just a wacky comedy, but more about family, community, and of course, hospitality. The Japanese culture is always been on I’ve been very interested in, so this movie provided a lot of enlightenment and entertainment for me. The director wrote about the film inside the DVD case for the film and discussed about Japan’s historical view of outsiders. He said he’d like to see more foreigners in Japan to mix things up and keep it interesting. That thought provides a lot of insight and more meaning into the film.
I enjoyed this film mostly due to its message and honesty. I too hope that the world becomes more accepting of other cultures and people who are simply different. The film does a great job of showing a family and their conflicts and milestones as a result of accepting an outsider. However the humor for me was possibly lost in translation, as I felt the film was fairly dry with exception to a few humorous scenes. I had trouble really liking most of the characters, often becoming annoyed with some of them. But hey, maybe that is the point and I’m not supposed to love them, but accept them? Either way, I felt as if I were missing something on many occasions and lost interest during a few periods of the film.
Though the film didn’t quite have the laughs or relevant characters for me, it still achieved what it set out to do. It makes a strong statement, and does so in an honest, artful and sometimes quirky manner.