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TIFF Review: The Long Excuse

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the long excuse

Natsuko cuts the hair of her husband Sachio Kinugasa who is as abrupt and disrespectful as she is gentle and kind; while she heads off on a bus trip with an old friend he has at tryst with his mistress.  The next morning a phone call about a tragic bus accident informs the high profile author that he has become a widower.  Also suffering a personal loss in the same crash is Yoichi who’s so affected by the death of his spouse that the truck driver is neglectful of the needs of his young son and daughter.  An unlikely partnership occurs with Sachio becoming the caregiver to the two children as their father goes off to work for long periods of time.

Masahiro Motoki portrays Sachio as a despicable person who is filled with self-loathing in the beginning.  It is not a surprising choice as the character needs to go through a dramatic transformation.  Old habits resurface from time to time which adds more believability to the emotional journey for the protagonist.  Motoki is at his best with the quieter moments where he lets his face do the talking.  The performances of the two child actors are quite endearing and captivating.  One does not doubt that they are siblings.  Pistol Takehara makes Yoichi the emotional and social counterpart of the suave Sochio.

Filmmaker Miwa Nishikawa has adapted her own novel which is an admirable accomplishment.  An interesting twist involves the assistant of Sachio appearing to be indifferent but a personal revelation makes the viewer realize that he is giving his boss a reality check.  At times the plot feels paint by numbers; however, there is enough of a personal investment by Miwa Nishikawa which contributes a layer of sincerity to the cinematic proceedings.

3.5-out-of-5

Check out all of our TIFF coverage.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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