Thermae Romae

(Japan, 2012)
New York Premiere
Co-Presentation with JAPAN CUTS
108 minutes, Blu-Ray, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by: Hideki Takeuchi
Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Aya Ueto, Masachika Ichimura, Riki Takeuchi, Katsuya

Here at the New York Asian Film Festival, every year we try to screen at least one movie the likes of which you’ve never seen before and never will again. This year we’re pretty sure we’ve nailed it. Reserve your tickets and get here early, because this is the big one. If you see one film in this year’s series, please, in the name of relaxation destinations everywhere, let it be THERMAE ROMAE.

In long-ago ancient Rome, in the time of Hadrian, 128 A.D., Lucius Modestus (Hiroshi Abe, Survive Style 5+) is a brilliant architect whose classical vision is out of step with the gauche times. The contemporary Roman bathhouses have become so…so…common and gaudy. Despairing for the empire, Lucius submerges himself beneath the water to have a think only to be sucked through a crack in the wall and sent hurtling through time and space. After the first of several glorious opera interludes, the proud Roman emerges buck naked in an ordinary Tokyo bathhouse, circa 2012. Mistaking the Japanese geriatrics for “flat faced slaves,” he is instantly fascinated and humbled by their magnificent advances with futuristic wizardry such as indoor plumbing and rotating fans. If only Rome could know the glory of these wonders! Soon Lucius is bouncing back and forth through time, applying his knowledge to new bathhouse designs, pondering the mysteries of Shinjuku’s modern public urinals, the arcane tapestries of children’s toilet paper, and the transcendent ecstasy of the Wonder Wave anal cleanser.

THERMAE ROMAE is a live-action adaptation of Mari Yamazaki’s bestselling manga, and it’s already a monster hit in Japan with an anime series and a sequel on the way. As Lucius, Hiroshi Abe owns the screen using just his eyes, face, and a stoic, deadpan running voiceover that will leave you unable to breathe. And the supreme lunacy of watching a handful of Japanese leads play super-coiffed and plucked Roman idols – while surrounded by European actors happily dubbed in Japanese – cannot be underestimated. Everything about this movie is utterly, irredeemably bugfuck insane, and you will never love anything more for as long as you live. You see, only Lucius’s time-tripping saunas can win ancient Rome’s war and save all of history as we know it. This summer, all roads lead to Rome and the manly tears that travel through time.

Sunday July 14, 5:15PM Japan Society Buy Tickets