Two newly bereaved widowers bond over their shared grief in The Long Excuse, a sardonic Japanese drama with leavening moments of dark comedy. Working from her own novel, the writer-director Miwa Nishikawa was partly inspired by the aftermath of the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In his first lead role since starring in Yojiro Takita's 2008 Oscar-winner Departures, Masahiro Motoki plays Sachio Kinugasa, an arrogant celebrity author whose loveless marriage to Natsuko has degenerated into frosty mutual tolerance.
At the very moment when Natsuko dies in a bus crash, Sachio is in bed with his mistress. Though more shocked and confused than sad, his fame requires him to mourn in public, even staging a cynical pilgrimage to the accident site for a voyeuristic TV crew. Meanwhile, truck driver Yoichi Omiya also loses his wife in the same crash. Consumed by guilt and self-loathing, Sachio recognizes Yoichi's grief as much more heartfelt than his own, especially as the impoverished blue-collar driver is suddenly struggling to raise two young children alone. He impulsively offers to help. (Film description from The Hollywood Reporter)
Articles and Reviews
"In The Long Excuse, Masahiro Motoki — star of the Oscar-winning Departures — makes a startling comeback as a novelist who discovers his cold-heartedness upon his wife’s sudden death. Writer-director Miwa Nishikawa’s somber reflection on the strains of marriage and parenthood is punctuated with beautiful existential undertones. According to Nishikawa, she wrote The Long Excuse in contemplation of the emotional aftermath of the March 11 earthquake (and tsunami). Unresolved issues between victims and their closest kin have been swept aside by the wave of collective mourning. Observing the scramble to form new liaisons to fill the void of sudden, permanent loss, the helmer reminds that it’s not easy to pick up the pieces and move on."