Friday, July 25, 2008

New Japanese film casts disabled character as serial killer

From The New York Times review July 25:

Certain to inspire worship in some quarters and walkouts in others, “Late Bloomer” turns prejudice on its head and adds to a rarefied subgenre: the disabled-serial-killer movie.

Our singular protagonist is Sumida (an astonishing performance by the severely disabled actor Masakiyo Sumida), a perpetually randy drunk who enjoys pornography, punk-rock concerts and rolling around town in his motorized wheelchair. But when he falls for a fetching college student (Mari Torii), her thoughtless response to his hesitant overtures (“Did you want to be born normal?”) drives him into a funk of fury and impotence that only a killing spree can assuage.

Startlingly humane in its insistence that Sumida is no different from any other guy — here the able-bodied are the fools, oblivious to his desires and internal life — “Late Bloomer” unfolds mainly in fizzy black and white and in a shooting style that mimics the unsettling jerkiness of Sumida’s body movements. Like the splendid Korean film “Oasis” this movie tackles its uncomfortable subject with the generosity and imagination of a filmmaker (in this case, Go Shibata) unafraid to confront taboos.

Weird, wicked and wonderfully perverse, “Late Bloomer” pulses with frigid energy. Watching it is like having your finger trapped in a light socket: no matter how much it hurts, you can’t quite tear yourself away.