Fantasia Review: ‘Special Actors’ is a wacky good time

Imagine being an aspiring actor and suffering an anxiety affliction so severe that you collapse every time you are nervous or confronted. This is the plight of Kazuto (Kazuto Osawa) in Special Actors, the new film by Shinichiro Ueda.

Of course, that’s not the movie’s plot, and honestly, I am loathed to tell you much about the story. It involves a talent agency specialising in hiring actors out to real-life events, a family-owned inn, and a cult. That’s pretty much all I can tell you without taking an express train to spoiler country, but to say this movie gets a little wacky would be an understatement.

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It’s almost unfair that this film is Ueda’s follow-up to last year’s One Cut of the Dead, as expectations will be very high and, in all honesty, Special Actors doesn’t quite live up to them. In comparison, though, Special Actors is far less high concept and pulled off far more conventionally, even if it does take enough twists and turns in the back half that I nearly lost track of them all.

That’s not to say it’s a bad film, though; in fact, Special Actors is fun and funny from the first frame to the last, and in its way, has many more layers to dig through before you can figure out what is going on.

Ueda appears to have a gift for this layering, this weaving of plots and characters together while at the same time making sure that his movies stay fresh and entertaining. That sounds like movie-making, but it is no easy feat, and his style has a particular flair.

The film is an ensemble piece, but at the heart of the film is Kazuto Osawa, who does a great job of carrying some of the more ridiculous moments in addition to all of his character’s various tics. I look forward to seeing more of him in the future.

Special Actors has a lot of things going for it: a great concept, a great cast, and a director who knows how to put a film together so that it ends up more than just the sum of its parts. This is one you will want to include on your watch list.


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