Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

Directed by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi
Film Movement
2021
121 Minutes
Japan
Japanese
Drama, Romance, Asian
Not Rated

An unexpected love triangle, a failed seduction, and a chance encounter with the past. Propelled by coincidence and imagination, and guided by love’s gentle current, acclaimed director Ryūsuke Hamaguchi (Happy Hour, Asako I & II) returns with an enchanting triptych that spins mundane encounters into a world of infinite possibilities. In Episode 1: Magic (or Something Less Assuring), a young woman is startled when she realizes that her best friend’s new flame might just be her ex; in Episode 2: Door Wide Open, a disgruntled student plots to trick his college professor, using his friend-with-benefits as bait; and in Episode 3: Once Again, a girl’s college reunion leads to an unanticipated run-in with an old friend, and awakens feelings long since forgotten. Playfully inspired by life’s tiny miracles, and bound together by memory, regret, deception, and fate, Hamaguchi leaves no stone unturned in his quest to chart the ever-deepening mysteries of the all-too-human heart.

Director & Cast

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Film Forum New York NY October 15, 2021
Vancity Theater Vancouver BC October 22, 2021

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Reviews

  • "A playful triptych of self-contained vignettes... wonderfully beguiling.... "
    David Erhlich, IndieWire
  • "It is a stunning production, from the precision of Hamaguchi’s script and direction, the fine performances, and Yukiko Iioka’s gorgeous camerawork, to Fuminori Usui’s everyday costuming, the bright colors and natural light, and the gently lilting score. It’s an overwhelming film, amongst the best of the year, and a beautiful reminder of all the lives being lived in spite of our oddly lifeless time."
    Rory O'Connor, The Film Stage
  • "Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is full of understated, melancholy poetry. ...emotionally authentic and consistently absorbing. Hamaguchi writes forensically flawed female characters with empathy and unsentimental honesty, ably assisted by his strong ensemble cast. Fragrant bursts of light classical piano music link these three stories, lending a timelessly Rohmer-ish ambience to their rueful ruminations on love, loss and longing."
    Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
  • "This trio of stories is elegant and amusing, with a delicacy of touch and real imaginative warmth."
    Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
  • "[T]he situations he conjures, probes and plays with in this film are a joy to watch unfold."
    Matt Turner, Little White Lies
  • "Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is another aching, beautiful film from Hamaguchi, and plays like the visualization of an obscure literary collection begging for rediscovery."
    Nicholas Bell, Ion Cinema
  • "Ryûsuke Hamaguchi's film is an alternately scathing, erotic, terrifying, and affirming fable of the primordial power of storytelling."
    Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine
  • "Delicately written and deeply thought-provoking, Hamaguchi's anthology feels like it's been adapted from a novel, such is the exquisite nature of the characterisation."
    James Mottram, South China Morning Post
  • "Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is a gorgeous trifecta of human connections that deserves to be seen for its extraordinary simplicity and varying perspectives. Don’t miss it."
    Shashwat Sisodiya , High On Films
  • "{F]resh and original, and – above all – sociologically sharp. "
    Mateusz Tarwacki, Eye For Film
  • "“Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” highlights once more, its filmmaker’s intimate knowledge of the human psyche, and the rather original and intelligent cinematic way he has come up with in order to present its various aspects."
    Panos Kotzathanasis, Asian Movie Pulse
  • "Three lovelorn episodes about “coincidence and imagination”, as described by writer-director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, comprise this wondrous, searching and loquacious film. Hamaguchi has spoken of his debt to Éric Rohmer, and, akin to that filmmaker’s work, there’s plenty of prose and dialogue to absorb across these thematically twined tales, elegantly rendered by artful camera placements and sly, disorienting shot selection."
    Joseph Owen, The Upcoming
  • "Hamaguchi's beautifully written, elegantly crafted triptych is a melancholy delight."
    Orla Smith, Seventh Row