27 August 2017 | ebossert
Fantastic Performance By Motoki
Note: Check me out as the Asian Movie Enthusiast on YouTube.
This movie is about a novelist who makes life difficult for everyone around him. He's a gloomy fellow who seems to be in a perpetually bad mood. Even worse, he cheats on his faithful wife with an editor acquaintance. Very early in this film, things take a serious turn when his wife dies in a bus accident. Now confronted with this abrupt event, our protagonist is faced with the task of finding closure and moving on with his life.
One of the most interesting things about "The Long Excuse" is that this protagonist is the epitome of multi-dimensionality. He cheats on his wife and has an attitude problem, so you immediately dislike him. But then, he shows a softer side when he volunteers to help care for two little kids, whose father is also a widower from the same bus accident. That sense of responsibility helps to make him more likable. However, half the time I was thinking to myself: "Did this guy still have feelings for his wife, does he feel guilty for cheating on her, or is he just completely confused with how to feel about it?" And it does not end there. I'm not going to tell you all of the other nuances to this man's character because you should experience that for yourself when you watch the film. But what I will say is that there are a lot of different angles that are covered with this character. And if that weren't impressive enough, this movie properly develops the other widower that our protagonist befriends.
In fact, this movie reminded me of Hirokazu Koreeda's film "Like Father, Like Son." One of the reason's why Koreeda's film was so compelling was because it explored so many different angles of one scenario so intricately. After that movie was over, it felt like a complete examination of that particular dilemma. "The Long Excuse" has a similar impact. There are so many different ways that this film explores the themes of mourning and redemption. It's really impressive in its intricacy and scriptwriting.
And that includes the dialogue. The characters in this movie have no qualms about stepping up and telling someone their thoughts on situations that are difficult to talk about. There are a few intense exchanges of dialogue where the characters criticize one another in how they're handling this very touchy situation. It's pretty riveting stuff.
The lead actor is Masahiro Motoki, who you may recognize from films such as "Departures" from 2008, "Gemini" from 1999, "The Bird People In China" from 1998, and "Gonin" from 1995. He is phenomenal in "The Long Excuse." It could be the best performance of his career. It's certainly a very difficult role to tackle, with a wide range of emotion to portray. The fact that Masahiro was able to make this protagonist relatable is a huge accomplishment. I love this guy.
The director is a woman by the name of Miwa Nishikawa, who has directed a handful of impressive films in prior years. My favorite of which is a film called "Sway" from 2006. All of her films are worth watching, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she does next.