Ancient Roman architect Lucius is too serious. His inability to keep up with the fast-moving times costs him his job. When a friend takes the dejected Lucius to the public bathhouse to cheer him up, Lucius accidentally slips through time and resurfaces in a modern-day public bath in Japan. There, he meets aspiring young manga artist Mami, along with others of the "flat-faced clan". Shocked by the many inventive aspects of Japan's bathing culture, Lucius returns to ancient Rome and garners tremendous attention when he implements these novel ideas back in Rome. As he time-slips back and forth between ancient Rome and modern-day Japan, Lucius' reputation as the ingenious, new bath architect begins to grow.
Directed by: Hideki Takeuchi
. Starring: Hiroshi Abe
, Aya Ueto
, Kazuki Kitamura
, Riki Takeuchi
, Kai Shishido
, Midoriko Kimura
, Bunmei Tobayama
, Kei Iinuma
, Tarô Iwate
, Takao Kinoshita
, Hachirô Ika
, Hiroshi Kanbe
. Music by: Norihito Sumitomo
It is probably the best movie of Hiroshi Abe I have seen -' a great opportunity for him to explore different expressions -' a public bath designer Lucius in ancient Rome who accidentally travels back and forth to modern day Japan. Consider the vast range of expressions he could explore and he did very well. And he has such a beautiful body! I felt such a privilege to witness it in the Summer International Film Festival.
It is quite a rare comedy for the generally serious Japanese to praise a cultural aspect they feel so proud of in a comical way. The plot initially appears to be a little silly but it works very well. Both the Japanese and ancient Romans live close to hot springs formed closed to volcanoes so it seems natural that both people have developed an intense interest in bathing. Hence it is also natural that there are points they can borrow from each other.
The plot has a very interesting concept. It is kind of like a live Flintstone cartoon. It also inspires you to look at your mundane daily life from a very different perspective. Do not take anything for granted!
The music is also great as familiar Italian operas appeared from time to time to match the scenes. The tenor is excellent and it matches the mood of the movie very well.
I wish the story would spend a little more on the relationship between the ancient Roman and the modern Japanese woman, aspiring manga (comics) artist Mami (Aya Ueto). But it seems it has been like this for centuries that men do not listen and women talk too much. This movie shows that men appear to be poor listeners but they actually hear you. They just do not respond right away so you do not know if they really get it. So ladies, just spell it out if you think it is important. They do hear it (maybe that's why women talks so much that it appears to be nagging;)). And man, please respond sooner. You have no idea how comforting your responses can be.
As for the shortcomings, I felt it a bit unnatural when it went a bit too far to value the Japanese team spirit. While it sort of reminded us of the rebuilding of Japan after the earthquake and this might serve as a boost of the national spirit, it sounded a bit forced and did not really go well with the development of the plot.
Another area that can be improved is the vulgar Chinese subtitles: not only was it in Cantonese which would make non-Cantonese Chinese hard to understand, but it is also very indecent which is totally unnecessary. The original Japanese does not sound so vulgar and indecent, nor does the English subtitles. This can be easily fixed before the film is publicly released. I do hope the public version will not be spoiled.
After watching this movie, you would be so drawn to soak in an onsen (hot spring) or a public bath, or at least a hot tub. I certainly did.
Review by Kicino from the Internet Movie Database.