Happiness of Us Alone


One of the five best Japanese films I’ve ever seen.

The story is of two people. One is deaf, the other deaf and dumb. They marry after meeting at a school reunion, and the film follows their trials and tribulations … and joys.

The beauty of this charming yet realistic film is that the couple (who communicate with each other exclusively in sign language, which is subtitled) are neither patronized nor glorified by the director. They are treated straight, as two very normal people with ordinary lives, who just happen to be hearing-impaired.

Alfred Hitchcock once described drama as “ordinary life with the boring bits cut out”. Another great feature of this film is that much of the story consists of bits of ordinary life, yet it never becomes boring. Indeed, and this is amazing considering the domestic quality of the storytelling, the film proceeds at a cracking pace, covering about a decade in just under two hours. The couple decide to have a child, but the baby dies, and only because of their parents’ deafness. After agonizing about laying blame, the couple put this tragedy behind them and have another child … who turns out to be a ghastly little boy. And this is only the beginning of their troubles.

The acting is first rate by all the major players. I particularly liked Akiko’s spirited mother. But it’s lead actress Hikedo Takamine who turns in a tour-de-force, with her expressive pierrot face. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. It is simply wonderful.

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