Italian Contemporary Film Festival 2013: Thermae Romae (2012)
The hero of Hideki Takeuchi’s Thermae Romae is Lucius (Hiroshi Abe), a bath house architect in ancient Rome who takes his designs very seriously, but is in need of some inspiration. One day, Lucius becomes submerged in the bath and finds himself in a public bath in modern Japan. Not knowing he’s time-traveled to the year 2012, Lucius is devastated by the idea that this foreign “tribe” has much more advanced bath technology than his beloved Rome.
After each successive move across time and space, Lucius implements rudimentary versions of these bathing advances in ancient Rome, and his “thermae architect” star begins to rise. He comes to the attention of the Roman Emperor – who also loves a good soak – and is commissioned to build him a bath house. Lucius becomes embroiled in politics and petty grievances, and ends up having to use Japanese bath technology to save the Roman army.
It’s not often that I can put the words “epic” and “comedy” together to describe a movie, but Thermae Romae allows me to do just that. Combining lavish visuals of Rome, operatic transition scenes, a little romance, and a whole series of sight gags, Takeuchi manages to produce a beautiful looking film that ranges from entertaining to hilarious. It’s also a clever kind of a cultural mash up, juxtaposing the wide, open spaces of ancient Rome with scenes from modern day urban Japan, and moving between Japanese and Italian languages. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable spectacle of a film, both comedic and grand at the same time.
Screening Times for Thermae Romae
Sun, June 30 7:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Gallery of Images from Thermae Romae
Watch the Thermae Romae Trailer
For more information, please visit the Italian Contemporary Film Festival website.