Given that hes known for his work in documentary film, it perhaps comes as little surprise that Werner Herzogs latest narrative feature has been fooling critics in Cannes into thinking its observed truth. Certainly, Family Romance, LLC, which is set in Japan, blurs the lines: it tells the story of the principal of the titular company, who provides surrogate rent-a-relative services, play-acting as their long lost family members in a variety of scenarios. Family Romance, LLC is a real company in Tokyo, and its real-world principal Yuichi Ishii plays himself in the film, while non-actors play his clients.
“The actors are so natural and so good that it almost feels like a documentary, but of course it is not,” Herzog told us, as he held court at Deadlines Cannes Studio. “It is highly, highly stylized, highly organized, highly scripted. Even professional movie watchers believe its a documentary. Although its so evident, it cannot be a documentary.”
In fact, insisted Herzog, “Im not really a documentarian. Most of my documentaries are feature films in disguise. So theyre stylized, and scripted, and repeated some times, and everything you normally do not do in a documentary.” When it was suggested others would disagree, he contrasted, for example, his recent work with Mikhail Gorbachev (“of course you have to respect the man in the situation, in the historical context”) with his doc about cave paintings, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, “Where at the end you have mutant, albino, radioactive crocodiles. So its completely going wild.”
Herzog was especially sensitive, in the case of Family Romance, LLC, of being a foreigner; documenting an aspect of Japanese culture from an outside perspective. He had worried about how a Japanese audience would react, and received feedback soon after the films premiere this week. “I had a reaction from a young man from Japan in the theater when we showed the film. And I asked him, Does it sound right? Does it look right? Yes, yes. I thought a Japanese filmmaker must have made it. But its so exciting you have made it. And I said, Is it all right? Yes, yes, yes. All the sensitivities were somehow observed.'”
Herzog has had a prolific year, adding Family Romance, LCC to complete a trio of films, starring in The Mandalorian and, naturally, holding a workshop foRead More – Source