Wow wow wow. Shin’ichirô Ueda’s follow up to ONE CUT OF THE DEAD is fantastic! SPECIAL ACTORS has all the charm and comedy of DEAD, and while OCOTD was a love letter to indie filmmaking, ACTORS is an equally compelling love letter to performers.
Aspiring actor Kazuto (Kazuto Osawa) has a major problem standing in the way of his career: whenever he gets nervous, he faints and passes out cold — and unfortunately, he gets nervous during each and every audition, so he never gets cast in anything. After a particularly disappointing rejection, Kazuto spies his brother Hiroki (Hiroki Kono) getting into a fight on the street. After the altercation, Hiroki explains to his brother that it was all an act and he works for a company called Special Actors that gets hired to do things like sit in a theater and laugh at a film, cry at a CEO’s funeral, or cause a scene so someone’s date thinks they’re a hero.
Shortly after Kazuto joins the Special Actors group to try and fulfill his acting dreams, a young woman named Yumi arrives with an important task for the Actors: save her family’s inn from a group of grifters disguised as a religious “rice ball” cult. Seems her sister Rina has been persuaded by the cult leader to hand over ownership of the inn, and no matter what she says to Rina, she can’t convince her that the cult is a fake. Once Kazuto discovers the true mission of the cult’s leaders, the Actors hatch a multi-layered plan to take down the rice ballers and save the inn.
If you’ve seen ONE CUT, you’ll probably be expecting a few twists and turns to the plot in this one — and I can tell you that even though you’ll be looking for them, you’re not going to guess how each one plays out!
Of all the films I’ve watched this year, SPECIAL ACTORS made me laugh the hardest. Ueda has once again constructed a film full of loveable characters and hilarious touches that just make it a pure joy to watch (one of my faves was the Special Actor who remarked how she always wanted to try bondage every time she got tied up as part of the scheme). I HIGHLY recommend this one. Also in case you’re wondering, even though this is a comedy, there IS some splatter involved!
SPECIAL ACTORS will stream online as part of Fantasia International Film Festival’s Opening Night, Thursday August 20, 9:45pm EDT.