Posted in Fantasia 2013, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews

The Apology King review – Fantasia 2013

The Apology King / 謝罪の王様 / Shazai no Ousama (2013)
Director: Nobuo Mizuta ; Screenplay: Kankuro Kudo
Cast: Sadao Abe, Mao Inoue, Masaki Okada, Machiko Ono, Katsumi Takahashi

The next screening is on August 4, 6:45pm

As far as comedies go, this is okay. What will interest I think non-Japanaese more are all the little details about dogeza, a form of apology where a person goes on their hands and knees and bows their head forward so that it touches the ground. It is the ultimate form of apology. Of course, one does not always need to go that far and depending on the severity of the offense, a genuine heartfelt apology and a proper bow will suffice. Other times, a bit of manipulation and trickery is needed in addition to an apology. The movie follows Ryoro who is an expert in dogeza and runs an apology center to help rude, clueless clients to get out of sticky situations with a well executed apology.

The movie is broken down into clients, his first client ends up becoming his assistant. Other clients include actors and a lawyer. The narrative is somewhat non-linear which isn’t apparent at first until you see the apology expert move from one client meeting to the next. It doesn’t really add anything to the story though, maybe a chuckle here and there but mostly just unnecessary though mild confusion. The last client is Ryoyo’s biggest one as he must help the government of Japan to apologize to another country (I forgot the name but I assume it’s fictional) after having performing a series of gestures which are considered polite in Japan but an insult to the other country. This is where my tolerance cracked a bit as I felt this other country was expressing no understanding whatsoever although it is funny the type of apology this country ultimately accepts. Much of my aggravation was due to the clueless clients in general.

There are some more emotional moments, one in particular gives background info about how Ryoro became an apology expert and another involving his assistant and her dad. It gives added depth to the two characters which is nice. The comedy was actually decent at the beginning but it really wanes towards the end until the final apology. If the premise interests you then I’d say go watch it but I’ve seen funnier films at Fantasia.

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Author:

Longtime fan of East Asian films. Former "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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