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SFFILM Festival

The Long Excuse

Directed by Miwa Nishikawa

Japan | 124

9 Apr
Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 7:30 pm PT


Some people handle fame with grace and gratitude. Then there are those like Sachio Kinugasa (Masahiro Motoki, the superstar from the 2008 Oscar-wnning drama Departures), a celebrity author who experienced success early on, and remains a petulant brat even in middle-age. When his long-suffering wife Natsuko (Eri Fukatsu) dies in a tragic accident during a trip with an old school friend, Sachio goes through the motions of public grief while feeling nothing himself. Nevertheless, he lets himself get drawn into the hapless mourning of Yoichi (Pistol Takehara), whose spouse died alongside Sachio’s. He even consents to babysit the truck driver’s now-motherless children, Shinpei and Akari, while dad is on the road. At first, Sachio may have selfish motivations—his dried-up creative well needs fresh material—but it turns out he has a hitherto untapped ease with kids, perhaps because his own emotions are so frequently childish. Still, the redemption of this prickly man-boy won’t be easy. As he says early on, “I don’t want sympathy…I don’t really like myself anyway.” A specialist in charting sea changes within “difficult” personalities, writer-director Nishikawa (adapting her own novel) has crafted a bemused, dry-eyed yet heartfelt spin on tearjerker-narrative territory. She finds an ideal muse in Motoki, who makes Sachio a tragicomedic figure worth savoring—and slapping. —Dennis Harvey

Director Miwa Nishikawa

Born in 1974 in Hiroshima, Miwa Nishikawa studied literature at the University of Waseda, and began working in film as an assistant on Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After Life (Festival 1999). Her feature debut as writer-director, Wild Berries (2003), won a number of festival awards, as did Sway (2006) and Dear Doctor (2009). The latter was adapted from her own novel, as was The Long Excuse (2016). Other films include Dreams for Sale (2012) and a contribution to the 2008 omnibus Fimeiru (2005). 

Film Details

Language Japanese

Year 2016

Runtime 124

Country Japan

Director Miwa Nishikawa

Producer Asako Nishikawa, Akihiko Yose

Writer Miwa Nishikawa

Editor Ryuji Miyajima

Cinematographer Yutaka Yamazaki

Music Michiaki Kato, Toshihiro Nakanishi

Cast Masahiro Motoki, Pistol Takehara, Sousuke Ikematsu