Sumida is like many other guys his age. He drinks beer, goes to gigs to see his friend Také’s band, and watches porn. Except that he has cerebral palsy and relies on a wheelchair to get him around, a voice machine to talk and a permanent nurse to tend to his needs. When he develops a crush on his care worker, Sumida bites the bullet and invites her to see Také’s band. But witnessing the ease of communication between his two able-bodied friends during the after-gig party, he is confronted by the hopelessness of his predicament and murderous thoughts arise in his mind.
Director Go Shibata debuted in 1999 with NN-891102. Though the very subject of his second feature seems guaranteed to raise the hackles of more sensitive viewers, the idea of making ‘a handicapped Taxi Driver’ originally came from real-life cerebral palsy sufferer and lead actor Masakiya Sumida, who was frustrated with the clichéd representations of the physically disabled in movies. Masterfully using the digital medium to conjure up the world as seen through the eyes of someone who, despite the well-meaning attempts of the friends who surround him, remains isolated within the prison of his crippled frame, Late Bloomer is an edgy, dark and challenging masterpiece of indie filmmaking that manage to express visually and emotionally something that can never be conveyed in words. JS