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Love’s for Sale in Werner Herzog’s Odd New Film

In the opening scene of Werner Herzog’s new function “Family Romance, LLC,” a well-dressed, barely nervous-looking man stops a 12-year outdated lady in Tokyo and explains that he’s her father, who left the household when she was solely 16 months outdated and would now just like the rekindle the connection. The man, Yuichi, and the lady, Mahiro, then have a stunning interlude wanting on the cherry blossoms in Yoyogi Park.

It’s all very bucolic till the subsequent scene, which reveals that he’s truly been employed by Mahiro’s mom to impersonate her actual father, who’s deceased.

And “Family Romance, LLC” simply will get odder from there — particularly should you understand that the man enjoying the “dad,” Yuichi Ishii, truly runs an actual Japanese firm referred to as Family Romance, and he’s enjoying himself doing what he truly does for a dwelling. A curious little meditation on the extent to which people will go to make connections, and on the commodification of the whole lot as much as and together with love, it’s a fascinating movie that may by no means be confused with one in every of Herzog’s main works. But it nonetheless has moments of delicate and quintessentially Herzogian rhapsody.

The movie was shot rapidly and inexpensively; typically it has a haphazard, made-for-video look to it. But different instances Herzog acheives moments of actual magnificence and wonder as he tells this completely bizarre and sometimes true story (Herzog is credited with the screenplay) of an organization that may fulfill your soul for a worth.

Family Romance, headed by Yuichi Ishii, does all of it. Is your husband an alcoholic who can’t be trusted to stroll his daughter down the aisle at her wedding ceremony? Hire a brand new one. (“I’m so glad we rented a father,” says the blushing bride as she adjusts her veil.) Are you afraid of the dressing-down you’re going to get out of your boss for making a mistake at work? Hire Ishii to take the blame for you. Has your life appeared humdrum ever because you gained the lottery, and you may’t replicate that feeling regardless of what number of tickets you purchase? Talk to Yuichi, and he’ll be sure to’re shocked by a check-toting sweepstakes group.

The movie by no means actually will get judgmental about this sort of creepy commerce — Herzog simply exhibits us one vignette after one other, creating a mild, pastoral tour by means of an unsettling new market for emotion.

In a means, it’s one other aspect of the story informed in Jessica Hausner’s “Little Joe,” which premiered in Cannes on Friday. But Hausner created an over-amped horror movie with the story of a flower genetically modified to emit a scent that makes people completely happy; Herzog doesn’t over-amp something, letting us discover the disquieting points for ourselves.

“Family Romance, LLC” skips evenly between tales, however Yuichi and Mahiro present the throughline. And whereas the movie doesn’t actually have wherever to go after the primary half hour or so, the problems that one would anticipate do come up ultimately. “This is going too far, isn’t it?” muses Yuichi to Mahiro’s mother, when he learns how connected the lady has turn out to be to him.

Well, yeah — however you may just about argue that hiring a man to faux to be a preteen lady’s useless father was going too far within the first place. And whereas it occurs quietly, you may say that what occurs from there means that Yuichi is conning himself, too.

“Who’s prepared to pay the price/For a trip to paradise,” Cole Porter wrote about 90 years in the past in “Love for Sale,” his ballad a few totally different form of emotional and bodily transaction. “Family Romance, LLC,” a unusual little movie that’s Werner Herzog’s most satisfying non-documentary function in a decade, means that numerous individuals are ready to pay that worth, however that what they get within the cut price could fall a bit…

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