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Thermae Romae II ("Terumae romae II ")

International Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2014
  • 113 mins
  • DCP
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
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Thanks to the architect Lucius, the designer of thermal baths whose creations appeased the Roman people, Emperor Hadrianus has put an end to his expansionist policies and found peace with his neighbours. However, the Senate has every intention of putting world domination back on the Roman Empire’s agenda, and is plotting to seize power. It’s at the Coliseum that it maintains barbarity in the heart of its people, staging bloody gladiator fights that are, much to the chagrin of Lucius, met with thunderous applause. Moreover, he is tasked with building baths for the wounded combatants. Looking for inspiration, he takes a dip — that lands him right in the middle of a gang of sumo wrestler in contemporary Japan. Thus begins a time travel journey that will inspire in the architect a series of brilliant ideas (to the great misfortune of the slaves brought in to replace 21st-century technology). Through these adventures — that involve, by the way, waterslides, an electric massage chair, and a mixed public bath — Lucius will again cross paths with Manami, now a journalist, as well as his old friends from the “flat-faced” tribe. The Senate’s plan is still underway and while Lucius is trying to create the ultimate open bath that would put a stop to Roman decadence, a Machiavellian plan targets Ceionius, Hadrianus’ successor.

Having won the heart of audiences, in Japan and worldwide (including at Fantasia), the colourful characters from Mari Yamazaki’s hit manga series THERMAE ROMAE are back in all their glory! Carried by a faithful cohort of experienced actors that includes Aya Ueoto (AZUMI), Kazuki Kitamura (KILLERS), Riki Takeuchi (DEAD OR ALIVE) and the excellent Hiroshi Abe (SURVIVE STYLE 5+) in the lead role, THERMAE ROMAE II doesn’t simply coast on the success of its predecessor — it surpasses it. Funnier, more grandiose and irreverent, this second journey from Ancient Rome to modern Japan care of director Hideaki Takeuchi is frankly spectacular, making the best of studio sets (a 50-metre Coliseum replica!) as well as the beauty of Japanese locales (including some of the best recognized baths of the archipelago). A visual delight, it is ultimately the multi-layered anachronistic jokes, delivered with much intelligence and a touch of insolence, that catapult THERMAE ROMAE II among the must-see attractions of the summer of 2014.

— Nicolas Archambault