Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Yûki Amami, Jingi Irei
Director: Kazuhiko Yukawa
Running Time: 117 mins
A Loving Husband is a Japanese film about a man who, after his son marries and leaves home, becomes perplexed by hidden divorce papers in his house, leaving him to ponder on his life and marriage, and where he may have gone wrong with his wife of 27 years.
I really liked this film. Starting off as a pleasantly funny and sweet drama, A Loving Husband develops very well throughout, all the way to becoming a surprisingly moving and deeply heartfelt watch towards the end, with real dramatic surprises and both wide and deep character development making for a film that may seem fairly predictable at the outset, but has a lot more to show for it come the end.
Let’s start off with the opening act, though, which is easily the film’s most easy-going and pleasantly enjoyable period. With an immediately likable lead turn from Hiroshi Abe, as well as strong and convincing chemistry with his on-screen wife of 27 years, played by Yûki Amami, A Loving Husband gets off to a great start, as it brings into focus all of the little difficulties in readjusting to life without children at home once they’ve gone off to live their own life.
A hearfelt look into the psyche of the married couple as they go through their biggest lifestyle shift yet, the film also impresses with an enjoyably playful take on all of those little troubles and quandaries that see their marriage start to hit a rocky patch. In that, the film builds up to a more dramatic and emotional core story, it manages to do so with energy and a certain glee that makes it an absolute delight to watch from the start.
And with such an endearing opening act, you’re hooked on the characters as it moves into its more dramatic phase. However, not only does the story of the husband and wife’s marriage take a more emotional route in the second and third acts, but the film also expands its horizons to encompass the lives of a selection of supporting players too.
While that core story is still certainly engaging and heartfelt, the most impressive and unique thing about A Loving Husband is how it portrays our main man’s journey of learning through his interactions with other people in his life, whether it be his students at school or acquaintances he meets in his spare time.
Thanks to strong supporting performances across the board and a great screenplay, you’re able to care just as much about the lives of others in the story, and learn from their own struggles alongside the main character to then craft a better ending for the marriage at the centre of the movie.
If the film was solely about the husband and wife, it would have been an enjoyable and engaging watch, but it definitely wouldn’t have been able to carry off the same emotional depth and impressive range that not only makes the film a more emotionally resonant watch, but one that holds your interest all the way through, giving you secondary stories to relate to as well when the core plot takes a moment out of the limelight.
In the end, though, that core story about the rocky marriage comes to an enthralling conclusion, retaining the same wonderfully heartfelt emotion without ever descending towards melodrama, yet still carrying out genuinely impressive and powerful drama as the story peaks in the final act. What’s more, it’s not as simple or predictable an affair as you may expect at first, and with that emotional depth, the film’s final act is almost somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster.
Overall, I really enjoyed A Loving Husband. Not only a deeply pleasant and enjoyable comedy-drama, but also a film with such heart and emotion that proves both endearing and equally powerful throughout. Bolstered by strong performances across the board, and a great screenplay that brings both depth and breadth to proceedings, there’s never a dull moment with this film, with delightful and heartwarming drama everywhere you look, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.8.