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Perhaps the most charming (though still unsettling) film Okamoto made
You never know what you are going to get when you turn on a Okamoto movie, it can be nihilistic terror, slapstick comedy, straight up action or even surrealistic yakuza breaking into song. It was therefor not surprising that At This Late Date, the Charleston was all over the map, in the best sense possible. Cops, assassins, a missing multi-millionaire, a shady family, a group of eccentric elderly people who have founded their own micro-country in the missing multi-millionaires house, and an attempted rapist in the middle.
It's certainly a comedy, and a ridiculously convoluted one at that - but again, truly, in the best way possible. Going in I simply had no idea what I was expecting. I knew it set itself apart from all of Okamoto's films by having a large elderly ensemble, and that was a very interesting hook. Imagine my surprise then when we open up with a juvenile delinquent assaulting a young couple, and then attempting to rape the girl, featuring a comical chase played for as many laughs as possible: showing just how far removed Japan is culturally from the west.
At This Late Date, the Charleston does manage the incredible feat of gradually making the turn from unsettling to potentially being a charming feel good movie - which is certainly new for Okamoto. I don't want to say how the story pans out, but the focus is rightfully where I expected it to be - at the eccentrics and their lifestyle - a political statement against the violence of WW2.
But why is it working as well as it does? It is largely because it manages to balance the farce to the fullest, almost approaching Oh, Bomb in it's ridiculousness at points, but at the same time creating interesting characters and group dynamics portrayed humanely enough to get attached and care beyond the comedy. Every piece plays it's part, and the story actually manages to come together wonderfully well.
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