When she loses her job, a young woman moves back in with her siblings and attempts to sort out their lives for them. Haruka (Kokoro Morita) is a confident, forthright businesswoman, appointed as a leader at the counselling company she helped found. Due to her overbearing attitude, she is accused of workplace harrasment and asked to leave the firm by the CEO. When Haruka’s mother dies, her siblings are faced with difficult choices. Her eldest brother wants to continue running the small shop owned by their parents, while also pursuing a younger woman he wants to marry; her sister Miwako (Eriko Nakamura) is unhappy at having moved home after a divorce six years before, leaving behind a daughter; while Haruka’s younger brother, Takuji (Haya Nakazaki) is long-term unemployed. Haruka’s get-up-and-go attitude sees her clash with her siblings as she tries to force them to make tough decisions, pursue their romantic interests or start businesses of their own.
A fun take on the family drama, setting up a sibling rivalry and tension between the different world-views and characters of the four adult children. Writer-director Keitaro Sakon’s “Lonely Glory” tackles familiar problems among families, such as how to best carry on their parents legacy; dealing with relationship problems; lack of motivation; and different perspectives on how these issues should be addressed. Kokoro Morita gives a great central performance as Haruka, garnering sympathy in her attempts to help her family, while at the same time being brash and pushy, a black sheep in a family who would rather not disturb the status quo. There is a subtle tragedy in the background to the narrative, highlighted when the family give only cursory congratulations on learning it is Miwako’s birthday. It seems they are siblings who have little interest in each other’s lives, to the extent of not realising when one has a birthday. Keitaro Sakon’s direction captures the family dynamics in the way the characters seat themselves around their ramen shop; and the active camerawork helps bring us inside their lives.
Like a placid lake disrupted by a stone, Haruka’s return to the family fold sees their comfortable lives disturbed, with dramatic consequences. Haruka comes to have doubts about her businesslike approach to life, realising that she is overly demanding of others. She is constantly active and wanting to solve what she sees as problems, while the family are more bound by traditions of not rocking the boat. While Haruka’s actions largely lead to positive outcomes, we are left to wonder, along with Haruka, exactly what her own happiness would look like and why she has this restless energy to improve herself and those around her. This unique family story will resonate with people who have ever had a difference of opinion or approach with their siblings.