SPECIAL ACTORS – FANTASIA 2020 REVIEW

At one point in our lives, we’ve all experienced the miscellaneous experience of acting. Whether if it was just a one-day workshop or even a full mandatory school course where your credit and diploma was dependent on this weirdly specific elective, the art of drama and theatrics is a very intriguing universal trade. Right off his international success that was his debut feature One Cut of the Dead, Shinichiro Ueda returns to his meta-textual roots with a sardonic comedy all about the acting process. Shifting from the people behind the camera to the ones in front, Special Actors is a daringly simplistic though thoroughly enjoyable examination on the sacrifices and turbulent chaos that can be found live on set. 

For those still re-living the extroverted trauma of an old drama class, Special Actors may be a little extreme for your taste. But for those who want to delve deep into an espionage dark comedy gone hilariously awry, then Special Actors may just be your next new favorite thing. Just imagine Werner Herzog’s Family Romance LLC as a pure unadulterated bittersweet comedy. The film is ultimately a deep dive commentary on the exploitation and ethics of one’s trade. How the great lengths of exaggeration and trickery can result in either drastic consequences or even on a more positive note, real change. Though some may refuse to believe it, artists have the incredible capability to create genuine progress. 

With the numerous twist and narrative turns featured in Special Actors, it’s evident that Ueda is paying tribute to the craft he’s so closely familiar with. As the film continuously stirs even more delightfully outrageous and entertaining plot threads, the film never loses its soul and purpose. Kazuto, the protagonist of the film is a lovable dork. An underdog tale of sorts, it’s fascinating to see this unconventional hero at the forefront of what would conventionally be a rather dry epic. Though with a wickedly scribed and socially relevant screenplay at its core, the film makes due with its nuanced subverted tropes. 

Truth be told, Special Actors is not as shocking, daring, or even as innovative in comparison with Ueda’s feature debut. One could even argue that his latest endeavor stretches its concept a little thin, resulting in some minor pacing issues. But honestly, who cares? It’s great to see Ueda back in the director’s chair once again, delving deep into his craft. A loving filmmaker with a beautiful passion for his art, Special Actors proves yet again that Shinichiro Ueda is here to forever stay. A newfound king of unconventional genre flicks, it’s delightful to see his work screened yet again at a variety of international film festivals worldwide. 

Special Actors screened digitally at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival, as part of the festival’s Cheval Noir competition

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