My haiku review of The Happiness of the Katakuris.
Inverted Von Trapp,
Building a dream together,
The director Takashi Miike creates a strangely compelling movie, about a multi-generational Japanese family forging a new start for themselves running a forlorn guest house at the end of an ephemeral road to Mount Fuji. The claymation opening sets the tone perfectly for a genre busting trip through the bizarre synaptic tributaries of a post-modern filmaker, showing a deformed angel falling in love with and devouring someone’s epiglottis, before being eaten by a crow and recycled. The wheel of Morph segues into an introduction to the family starting with the Grandfather Jinpei, played by the late Tetsuro Tamba, highlighting his uncanny ability to dispatch the local wildlife with carefully aimed blocks of firewood. The film moves from musical to horror as the family head, played by Kenji Sawada tries to cope with the unfortunate turn of events which lead to his guests requiring a requiem rather than room service.
Miike created this paean to killing and karaoke off the back of Ichi The Killer and Visitor Q and it feels like he was stretching his legs to create something which doesn’t have a direct analogue with any film his contemporaries would make. The closest approximation I could muster would mix The Sound Of Music, Fargo and the redemption arc of Danny Zuko in Grease. The lighthearted musical feel counterpoints how intrinsically wrong it is for the family to bury bodies in what appears to be a rubbish dump in order to get ahead financially, creating a satire showing the archetypically materialistic American dream of happiness under the long Shinto shadow cast by Mount Fuji.
An engaging film, I’d give it at least one thumb up, watch this if you can.