5 hours and 17 minutes is not nothing. Especially if what is at stake is “finding one’s centre”, as stated by the ambitious workshop programme on which the four heroines of Happy Hour enrol. In a way, Jun is the hub of this group of friends as she was the one who introduced Fumi, Akari and Sakurako to each other. But it is also because of her that the quartet is in danger of breaking up, firstly after the announcement of her divorce and then her disappearance. Joyfully blending forms of cinema, television series and documentary, Ryusuke Hamaguchi is always in full control of his story. He accommodates digressions and assumes the distended duration of certain scenes, which suddenly, with no forewarning, intensify their revelatory force and emotional charge. The customs and concerns of the Japanese, mid-way between tradition and modernity, in downtown Kobe and its surroundings. But also the rich inner landscapes revealed in a monologue or a look: everything becomes increasingly limpid as the story unfolds – a seemingly legible scenario, but eminently courageous, like its wonderful actresses. These are five happy hours spent in their company.