When he’s not playing unexpected cameos in the latest Star Wars film, Werner Herzog is scouring the world for strange and unique documentary subjects. For his latest film, Family Romance LCC, the Oscar-winning director is turning his attention to the Japanese rent-a-family industry, where companies assign actors to imitate the roles of friends and family members.
Set in Tokyo, the film follows Yuichi Ishii, who heads Family Romance LCC, a company that has specialised in fake families for over 11 years. Their offerings are pretty surreal – from renting a fake father to hiring actors to stage a paparazzi shoot, or employing a fake boyfriend to bring to a family dinner.
Herzog’s documentary is a “stranger than fiction film” consisting of a series of scripted fragments that take a behind-the-scenes look at this bizarre industry and its clients. Exploring the concept of loneliness, the filmmaker shines a light on the uncomfortable truth of isolation by exposing some extraordinary – and unusual – stories.
The film, which premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, will hit cinemas on May 1. Watch the trailer below.