September 27, 2023

Diana Cheng
AAP film review

A scene from “The Long Excuse”.

“The Long Excuse” is another engaging Japanese family drama in the Asian Frontiers selections at the 36th MSPIFF. It is also in the Women and Film program. The multi-talented Miwa Nishikawa not only directs but adapts her own novel “The Long Excuse” into screenplay. Nishikawa had worked under the acclaimed Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore’eda (“After the Storm”, 2016). It is not hard to see the master’s influence in “The Long Excuse”.

Replicating Kore’eda’s sharp eyes for family relationships, especially father and son, Nishikawa brings to the audience a nuanced and poignant touch in her depiction of two husbands dealing with love and loss, grief and renewal. Masahiro Motoki — known for his stellar performance in “Departures” (2008) — plays Sachio the passé celebrity author and Pistol Takehara as Yoichi the truck driver play off each other effectively, portraying two contrasting reactions to the loss of their wives in an accident.

Helping children deal with the death of a beloved mother is a heartbreaking task. Brother and sister Shinpel (Kenshin Fujita) and Akari (Tamaki Shiratori) are a delight to watch. Despite their loss, they have found love and reassurance in a renewed relationship with their father and a new friend in Sachio. Nishikawa has crafted a heartwarming family drama framed in captivating cinematography, enhanced by a wonderful score and classical pieces. Overall, an enjoyable treat. “The Long Excuse” showings are April 16 and 23 at the MSPIFF. For more info and tickets visit

Contact Diana Cheng at [email protected] or visit at Twitter @Arti_Ripples or her blog Ripple Effects,