Thermae Romae ("Terumae Romae")
Official Selection, Hawaii International Film Festival 2012
Official Selection, New York Asian Film Festival 2013
“Cheekily entertaining” – Maggie Lee, VARIETY
“An engagingly over-the-top romp” – Mark Adams, SCREEN DAILY
It’s hard to keep up with the times sometimes. There’s no doubting the skill and dedication of Lucius Modestus, a designer and builder of public bathhouses in Rome of 128 A.D. His conservative principles and tasteful ideals, however, are being brushed aside in favour of garish novelty. Seeking to soak away his career troubles at one such bathhouse, he ducks underwater to escape the noise and foolish behaviour around him — and discovers a hole in the floor that is in fact a vortex, sucking him through the fabric of time! Emerging in a bathhouse in modern Japan, Lucius is confused and amazed by these strange foreign people and their amazing innovations in public bath technology. Drawn back to ancient Rome, he puts these ideas to work and quickly regains his place as a leader in his field. All of Rome is talking about the bathhouses of Modestus (who finds himself back in Japan more than once, discovering such marvels as toilet paper, Jacuzzis and of course electronic bidets!), and word soon reaches the ear of tyrannical Emperor Hadrian. Modestus is drawn into the luxuries and political storms of Rome’s rulers, while in Japan, he has caught the eye of a pretty, socially awkward aspiring manga artist…
Wash away your worries, fellow citizens, with this wonderfully offbeat Japanese historical fantasy comedy! Hiroshi Abe (SURVIVE STYLE 5+, CHOCOLATE) brings his handsome mug and comedic chops to Hideki Takeuchi's adaptation of Mari Yamazaki's popular manga series, and a number of notables from the crazier side of Japanese cinema pop up in the cast. A witty, wacky spin on time-travel in the vein of JUST VISITING, THERMAE ROMAE compares and contrasts the cultures — and shared obsession with bathing — of Rome and Japan, as Modestus strives to make sense of the modern world and replicate its ideas (in a wonderfully low-tech, FLINTSTONES style) back home in antiquity (note that the Roman scenes were shot on the lots of Italy’s famous Cinecittà studios!). THERMAE ROMAE, a huge hit at the Japanese box office, succeeds gloriously in taking an absurd premise and wringing it out for clever ideas, interesting insights and loads of laugh-out-loud lunacy. “Tempus fugit”, as the Romans said, so “carpe diem” and don’t miss your chance to catch THERMAE ROMAE!
— Rupert Bottenberg