Late Bloomer (Osoi Hito) chronicles the life of Sumida, a disabled man in Japan, who is played by disabled actor Masayiko Sumida. Midnight Eye provides an extensive and informative review. Here is a short excerpt:
“Late Bloomer is the story of Sumida-san, a severely handicapped man, and his downward spiral into hell. When we’re first introduced to him we find that despite his physical limitations – and contrary to cultural misconceptions about the handicap – he has all of the desires and personality traits of a physically normal man. Specifically: he loves to party, eat good food, and ‘rock out’ to his caregiver Take’s hardcore band. However, Sumida-san’s life begins falling apart when he develops a crush on his new occasional caregiver, Nobuko. Needless to say, the feelings are not reciprocated and when Nobuko starts spending her free time with Take, Sumida-san is driven mad with desire and frustration and things take a turn for the worse…
“In the interview which accompanies this review, director Shibata talks about how Late Bloomer grew out of a desire to confound cultural misconceptions and prejudice against the handicap. He himself admits that he was guilty of these cultural biases and claims that one of the most important things he had to overcome during the shooting of this film (comprising the first year and a half of its total production time) was the emotional and social distance that existed between Sumida and himself. This distance is reflected in the type of popular cinema that is produced featuring handicapped people: a particularly safe brand of generic art.”
Late Bloomer is currently playing in select theaters around the US. The New York Times also offers a review.
[this video contains auditory language in Japanese and no subtitles, sign interpretation, or other captioning]