• Golden Globe Awards

Family Romance, LLC (USA)

Imagine renting happiness. Imagine someone rented your long-lost father who left your mother when you were still a baby and whom you have never seen before. You would not suspect any foul play; you would just be grateful for his return. Or a friend that you have missed since grammar school all of a sudden shows up. But those are all actors, hired by some well-intentioned family member of a good friend, from an agency called ‘Family Romance’. Such is the topic of renowned director Werner Herzog’sHerzog (78), who does not speak a word of the language, chose to do it this way regardless since this idea originated there. “The phenomenon (of renting) family members started in Japan, but it’s moving into other countries. So, we’ll see it very soon in our countries thanks to highly technical civilizations with aging populations. I immediately knew it had to be so authentic, it cannot be done with actors who are Japanese that speak English, for example, you don’t do it like that.”
The German director, writer, producer and sometime actor and poet, famous for such screen gems as Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre, the Wrath of God (both starring the infamous Klaus Kinsky) and later Bad Lieutenant and Queen of the Desert, calls Family Romance one of “my essential films of the human condition”
He carefully chose his actors from a long list of Japan’s best. Ishii Yuichi plays the actor impersonating fathers, brothers and lovers for various clients. Mahiro Tanimoto is the 12-year-old girl, Miki Fujimaki her mother who engages the agency to fill the void in her daughter’s life. The film explores an interesting question about human behavior: how many lies are we willing to tell and live to make those we love happy? And even though the story is true, the film is fiction.