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.