Late Bloomer (2004) - Rotten Tomatoes

Late Bloomer (2004)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In Go Shibata's black-and-white DV feature, Late Bloomer, handicapped actor Sumida Masakiyo plays Sumida, a disabled man, wheelchair-bound, who seems to lead a simple life. He spends many nights drinking to excess, often with one of his caretakers, a musician named Take (Naozo Hotta), and his days sleeping it off, and wandering the streets. He frequently buys cheap plastic army men from a vending machine in his neighborhood. He always seems to be smiling, which might lead one to believe that he's a reasonably happy man. But there seems to be something unpleasant under the surface of his grin. Then Nobuku (Mari Torii), an attractive young student caretaker, arrives on the scene. Sumida quickly grows obsessed with the woman, who videotapes their encounters for a thesis project. One night, Nobuku accompanies Sumida to one of Take's concerts, and Sumida senses a mutual attraction between his two friends. This makes him jealous. Nobuku soon discovers that Sumida is not as sweet and harmless as he seems, but when she decides to stop caring for him, her pretty roommate Aya (Sumiko Shirai) arrives to take her place. Before long, Sumida's frequent violent fantasies become a disturbing reality. Late Bloomer was shown at the 2005 New York Asian Film Festival, presented by Subway Cinema.


Sumida Masakiyo
as Sumida Masakiyo
Torii Mari
as Nobuko
Ariko Arita
as Caregiver
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Late Bloomer

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (7)

Considering its five-year production history, Late Bloomer is a regrettably scattershot affair.

Full Review… | December 31, 2008
Seattle Times
Top Critic

You have to meet the film's visual style halfway. It's shot in contrasty black and white, slo-mo, fast-mo, sometimes jagged cutting, sometimes an erratic hand-held camera that suggests the jerky way Sumida must view the world.

Full Review… | November 6, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

You might not like what you see, but you will appreciate it. And you certainly won't forget it for a while.

Full Review… | July 25, 2008
New York Post
Top Critic

Weird, wicked and wonderfully perverse, Late Bloomer pulses with frigid energy. Watching it is like having your finger trapped in a light socket: no matter how much it hurts, you can't quite tear yourself away.

Full Review… | July 25, 2008
New York Times
Top Critic

Strangest for genuinely empathizing with the monstrous Sumida-san as if he were the typical disabled lead in an inspirational heartstring-tugger.

Full Review… | July 23, 2008
Village Voice
Top Critic

doesn't add much profundity to the human condition

Full Review… | January 26, 2010
Old School Reviews

Audience Reviews for Late Bloomer

4 star review on - Below is the review from “What is that ungodly thing?” “It looks like an octopus.” “This is the vagina!” And so begins the fabulously perverse and brilliant little gem that is “Late Bloomer”. If you thought your seventh grade sex-ed experience was troubling, you have nothing on the unnamed boy at the center of this film. For him, Miss Lovecraft’s lecture on the male and female reproductive systems is apocalyptically terrifying to the point of insanity. It all starts with the sight of a giant Vagina, or a giant chalk-drawn depiction of one, at least. Then the Penis is unveiled like a demon freshly summoned from the bowels of hell. If He is the One Who is Not To Be Named, then surely the unholy union of these two ancient gods of carnality is One Which We Do Not Even Think! Transfixed by these preposterous images and their strange implications, the boy begins to descend into the darkest depths of his psyche, to places where few mortals have ever dared tread. His female classmates begin to writhe like lustful sirens, sweat explodes from his every pore, his classroom transforms into an alien landscape of hidden dangers, and that damn Vagina comes alive, threatening to swallow him whole. His downward spiral culminates with an insane, orgiastic thanksgiving, in which he speaks in tongues, proclaiming his allegiance to the almighty Vagina and Penis, and cavorts with the thrashing females, now in the full throes of ecstasy. Of course, this is all in the boy’s head and nothing particularly untoward is ever actually shown (hey, these are kids after all, you sicko!). Without a doubt, “Late Bloomer” is one of the funniest things I have seen in some time. Describing the film’s “plot” cannot possibly do justice to this fine example of short filmmaking, which might otherwise sound like some disturbing bit of exploitation. Directed by Craig Macneill from a script by Clay McLeod Chapman, “Late Bloomer” is in fact a spot-on re-creation of the horrors of sexual awakening. The filmmakers’ take on this fascinating subject is not only bold and honest, it is also utterly hilarious, thanks mostly to the deliciously creepy voice-over work of screenwriter Chapman. As the inner voice of the boy most affected by Miss Lovecraft’s wild revelations, Chapman sounds like a deranged poet who’s clearly spent too much time studying that other Lovecraft while in the asylum. His fevered hysteria during the boy’s ultimate breakdown rivals that of the great Gene Wilder for sheer simulated delirium, a true spectacle indeed. As the boy himself, first-time actor Sam Borenzweig is wonderfully expressive. Without uttering a word, Borenzweig conveys confusion and panic and that hell-and-back glint like a pro. I’m sure it was difficult for the filmmakers to find a young actor to star in such a… touchy role, but I doubt they could’ve done any better than Borenzweig. Overall, “Late Bloomer” is surely a film not to be missed! by Daniel Wible

Chris Howard
Chris Howard

This is a quasi-experimental film that plays with digital video technology to create jarring images and buzzing electronic sounds, which is not exactly my cup of tea. The film was interesting, but lost me, from an emotional standpoint, about halfway through by turning the main character, the mute Sumida, into a lunatic. The movie ends up being a sort-of curiosity piece, along the lines of Crispin Glover?s films featuring real disabled people in strange situations.

John Gholson
John Gholson

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