Family Romance LLC (2019)
Director (and writer): Werner Herzog
Cast: Ishii Yuichi, Mahiro Tanimoto
A man is hired to impersonate the missing father of a young girl. – IMDB
How far would you go to create a certain feeling? Family Romance LLC is a company that finds professional actors to create a certain moment crafted to their needs whether its a stand-in husband at a ceremony or setting up a surprise moment to relive an experience or in this story’s central story, a father returning to know a daughter. It takes a look at how a person’s desire to escape loneliness and feel wanted or important can lead them to create these fictitious moments and where does it stop.
Family Romance LLC approaches its rather personal material in a well-rounded structure. It focuses on the main story which is a mother hiring a man Ishii (Ishii Yuichi) to be the father of her 12 year old daughter Mahiro (Mahiro Tanimoto) who has left them since she was 2 and the following outings this “father-daughter” go on to build their relationship while seeing how this man Ishii reports back to the mother. At the same time, it gives another side of the story of Family Romance LLC and that is the other types of services that it offers for other people in need which gives a broader extent of how far these services can go and the boundaries and limits and how it is run on other levels.
While that is the case, Family Romance LLC will at times feel disjointed as it jumps from one scene to the next whether in his main vein or the little cases of different people that approach Ishii hiring their different actors for their different emotional voids. At the same time, its hard to determine whether this is a documentary or a drama as the main cast are non-professional actors sharing the raw story based on “rentaru furendo”, an actual type of agency like Family Romance LLC that exists in Japan. Perhaps its because these actors, mostly focused on Mahiro and Ishii that makes this film feel ever more realistic and at times, see that their attachment does form and how it will end as father-daughter relationships is something that can be replicated not exactly an act that can be forever. Especially as these two, despite their awkward interactions growing slightly better by the end, do spike some connection to these people and wonder whether on any level these lies are better especially for the daughter who may have believed to have found her father again but to inevitably have to lose him at some point depending on how far this act can go.
Family Romance LLC is a tough film to watch. Its not for everyone especially in terms of pacing and it blurs that line between cinema and reality. It looks at the society and the emotional voids that individuals will have as well as how far they will go to replicate feelings, relive moments and create this fake sense of security or happiness and find their own bliss. However, it also emphasizes on the actor hired, Ishii Yuichi and as much as this is a business and he can’t love or be loved (something along those lines), emotions are part of being human and he has to know where to draw the lines, no matter how difficult and as subtle as those feelings are portrayed, those struggling moments add a lot to the film as Family Romance LLC shows many sides of the story. For this premise, which is hard to portray, director Werner Herzog makes the best of it and delivers a fairly immersive film that will make you ponder on how far the lonely society will go and how significant emotional voids are in life.
Family Romance LLC has another screening at Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 19th at 9:20pm at Cineplex Odeon Quarter – Salle 10. You can find more info HERE.