Film at Lincoln Center announces “Hamaguchi I & II,” a selected retrospective of Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s films to be presented at FLC from April 26–30, in anticipation of the North American Premiere of GIFT (May 1–2 at FLC with composer Eiko Ishibashi performing a live score in person), and the U.S. release of his NYFF61 Main Slate selection Evil Does Not Exist (opening May 3 at FLC with Hamaguchi and Ishibashi in person).

Tickets are on sale now!

Film at Lincoln Center has been instrumental in introducing audiences to Hamaguchi’s work, beginning with the New York debut of Happy Hour in 2016 at New Directors/New Films. Since then, four of his features have made their U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival: Drive My Car (NYFF59), Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (NYFF59), Asako I & II (NYFF56), and Evil Does Not Exist (NYFF61). Passion, Hamaguchi’s 2008 theatrical debut, premiered in the U.S. in an FLC theatrical run in 2023.  

Since emerging onto the world stage with his 2015 international breakthrough, the five-plus-hour Happy Hour, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi has hardly slowed down. Rather, the six additional films he has made since then have all but solidified his status as one of contemporary cinema’s most tirelessly inventive filmmakers, whose body of work so far is among the most profoundly human, richly cinematic, and pleasantly unpredictable in modern movies. Over the years he has developed a style evoking the fiction-gamesmanship of Rivette, the unassuming intimacy of Rohmer, and the expressive formalism of Sōmai with the distinctive traits of Hollywood and literature that—in a rarely successful balancing act—have won over arthouse and mainstream crowds alike.  From his short films and debut feature Passion, made while still a student, to the 2021 double-hitter of Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy and Oscar winner Drive My Car, “Hamaguchi I & II,” offers the opportunity to see some of the director’s most remarkable films.

Organized by Florence Almozini and Tyler Wilson.

Tickets for “Hamaguchi I & II” and Evil Does Not Exist are on sale now. Tickets are $17; $14 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $12 for FLC Members. 

See more and save at “Hamaguchi I & II” with a 3+ Film Package ($15 for general public; $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $10 for FLC Members). Note: Evil Does Not Exist is not eligible for 3+ Film Package.

All films screen at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.)

Like Nothing Happened and Heaven Is Still Far Away
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2003 and 2015, Japan, 81m
Japanese with English subtitles

Like Nothing Happened and Heaven Is Still Far Away.

This program brings together two medium-length works, made 13 years apart, that foreground Hamaguchi’s long-held ability to zero in on the nuances and pressure points of performance, identity, and (mis)communication. One of his earliest films, made while he was still a student at the University of Tokyo, Like Nothing Happened (2003, 43m) is an 8mm-shot, unhurried study of conversations, alternatively drifting and revealing, among five young friends (one played by Hamaguchi himself) that revolve around their outing to a horse racetrack. Heaven Is Still Far Away (2016, 38m), by contrast, is a cross between a ghost story and a film about filmmaking that peels back the layers of a relationship formed by absence—a subject Hamaguchi would mine further in Asako I & II and Drive My Car—in which a young loner becomes the reluctant vessel for a documentary filmmaker to commune with her deceased sister.
Saturday, April 27 at 1:00pm
Tuesday, April 30 at 6:00pm

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2008, Japan, 115m
Japanese with English subtitles


In his first theatrical debut feature, Hamaguchi examines a series of intersecting love triangles as only he can, plunging headlong into the exposed-nerve confessions and unrequited attachments among a group of thirtysomethings. The film begins when a couple, Kaho (Aoba Kawai) and Tomoya (Ryuta Okamoto), announce their engagement to their friends over dinner, where it’s also revealed the groom had an affair years earlier. While the two spend the evening apart, Tomoya follows his friends to the apartment of a former classmate (Fusako Urabe, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy) with whom he’s in love, and is led into ever more vulnerable and shocking exchanges of emotional honesty. Passion was made as Hamaguchi’s student thesis project at Tokyo University of the Arts, and it already displayed, with clear-headed precision, the director’s peerless gift for elucidating the complexity of modern relationships and their intricate, frequently inexpressible wounds. A Film Movement release.
Sunday, April 28 at 1:00pm
Monday, April 29 at 8:30pm

Happy Hour
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Japan, 2015, 317m
Japanese with English subtitles

Happy Hour . Courtesy of KimStim.

Four thirtysomething female friends in the misty seaside city of Kobe navigate the unsteady currents of their work, domestic, and romantic lives. They seek solace in each other’s company, but a sudden revelation creates a rift and rouses each woman to take stock. Arguably Hamaguchi’s breakthrough film internationally, this wise, precisely observed, compulsively watchable drama of friendship and midlife awakening runs more than five hours, yet the leisurely duration is not an indulgence—it’s a careful strategy to show what other films leave out, to create a space for everyday moments that are nonetheless charged with possibility, and to yield an emotional density rarely available in a feature-length movie. Developed through workshops with a cast of mostly newcomers (the extraordinary lead quartet shared the Best Actress award at the 2015 Locarno Film Festival), and filled with absorbing sequences that flow almost in real time, Happy Hour has a novelistic depth and texture. But it’s also the kind of immersive, intensely moving experience that remains unique to cinema. A New Directors/New Films 2016 selection. A Kimstim release.
Sunday, April 28 at 3:30pm 

Asako I & II
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Japan/France, 2018, 119m
Japanese with English subtitles

Asako I & II.

A truly original Vertigo riff, based on a novel by Tomoka Shibasaki, Asako I & II is an enchanting, unnerving paean to the notion of love as a trance state. Asako (Erika Karata) and Baku (Masahiro Higashide) share an intense, all-consuming romance—but one day the moody Baku ups and vanishes. Two years later, having moved from Osaka to Tokyo, Asako meets Baku’s exact double. Hamaguchi followed up his five-hour-plus Happy Hour with this beguiling and mysterious film that traces the trajectory of a love—or, to be accurate, two loves—found, lost, displaced, and regained. An NYFF56 Main Slate selection. A Grasshopper Film release.
Saturday, April 27 at 5:30pm
Monday, April 29 at 6:00pm

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021, Japan, 121m
Japanese with English subtitles

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy. Courtesy of Film Movement.

In this altogether delightful triptych of stories—the first of two features the director premiered in 2021—Hamaguchi again proves he is one of contemporary cinema’s most agile dramatists of modern love and obsession. Whether charting the surprise revelation of a blossoming love triangle, a young couple’s revenge plot against an older teacher gone awry, or a case of mistaken romantic identity, Hamaguchi details the sudden reversals, power shifts, and role-playing that define relationships new and old. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is both ironic and tender, a lively and intricately woven work of imagination that questions whether fate or our own vanities decide our destinies. An NYFF58 Main Slate selection. A Film Movement release.
Friday, April 26 at 5:00pm
Saturday, April 27 at 3:00pm
Tuesday, April 30 at 8:00pm

Drive My Car
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021, Japan, 179m
Japanese with English subtitles

Drive My Car.

Inspired by a Haruki Murakami short story, Hamaguchi spins an engrossing, rapturous epic about love and betrayal, grief and acceptance. With his characteristic emotional transparency, Hamaguchi charts the unexpected, complex relationships that theater actor-director Yûsuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) forges with a trio of people out of professional, physical, or psychological necessity: his wife, Oto (Reika Kirishima), with whom he shares an erotic bond forged in fantasy and storytelling; the mysterious actor Takatsuki (Masaki Okada), to whom he’s drawn by a sense of revenge as much as fascination; and, perhaps most mysteriously, Misaki (Tôko Miura), a plaintive young woman hired by a theater company, against his wishes, to be his chauffeur while he stages Uncle Vanya. Hamaguchi specializes in revelations of the heart, and Drive My Car—a beautiful melding of two distinct authorial sensibilities—consistently steers clear of the familiar in its characters’ journeys toward self-examination. Winner of the 2022 Oscar for Best International Feature Film and Best Screenplay at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. A Sideshow and Janus Films release. An NYFF59 Main Slate selection.
Friday, April 26 at 7:30pm
Saturday, April 27 at 8:00pm

Opens May 3 with Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and Eiko Ishibashi in Person
Evil Does Not Exist
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2023, Japan, 105m
Japanese with English subtitles

Evil Does Not Exist. Courtesy of Sideshow/Janus Films.

Deep in the forest of the small rural village Harasawa, single parent Takumi lives with his young daughter, Hana, and takes care of odd jobs for locals, chopping wood and hauling pristine well water. The overpowering serenity of this untouched land of mountains and lakes, where deer peacefully roam free, is about to be disrupted by the imminent arrival of the Tokyo company Playmode, which is ready to start construction on a glamping site for city tourists—a plan, which Takumi and his neighbors discover, that will have dire consequences for the ecological health and cleanliness of their community. The potent and foreboding new film from Oscar-winning director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, both NYFF59) is a haunting, entirely unexpected cinematic experience that reconstitutes the boundaries of the ecopolitical thriller. Intensified by a rapturous, ominous score by Eiko Ishibashi, this mesmeric journey diverges from country-vs-city themes to straddle the line between the earthy and the metaphysical. An NYFF61 Main Slate selection. A Sideshow and Janus Films release.