Hirokazu Koreeda takes a look into the abyss of Japanese society and paints a deeply disturbing but true picture of human beings who replaced their real lives into a state of mere existence. Solitude and emotional repression, ironically enough, in the country with one of the highest population densities and material goods ad infinitum. A study of cultural constraints. Our protagonist (Du-Na Bae), masterfully chosen, is the newest excretion in the line of goods to blow some of that sexual steam off: an air doll with a washable rubber vagina. Her owner (refreshingly serious comedian Itsuji Itao), a lonesome waiter uses her as a substitute for a girlfriend, bathes, talks and of course - has sex with her. One day she awakes and discovers that she has grown a soul and begins her first tiny steps in a hostile world, without any prejudice or knowledge of the environment surrounding her. First enthralled and joyful to find all those wonders of life, she is soon crushed by the empty bitterness of people. A fallen Amélie, powerless before the unloving societal apparatus. In Japan, there is a socially acknowledged system which consists of the Tatemae (homogenous, polite, superficial and carefully considered not to break in one's boundaries) and the Honne (one's "real" personality/ intentions). This seemingly schizophrenic social obligation produced monsters in industrialized 21st century Japan and this film shows us some of their victims. Live your lives! Be you! Appreciate the little things! Talk to people!, although slowly paced, the pictures flickering on the screen seem to shout in your face. What may sound ridiculous and hard to understand for American/European audiences, Japanese reality needs exactly those words. Although I do not agree with some artistic choices on a personal level, I cannot stretch how much I agree with the message of this film. With increasing alienation and mistrust of people even in western societies, I am sure you can pick something up for yourself, look over frontiers and "crazy japs sticking their dicks in plastic wtflulz!!1". Definitely worth your while.
A life-size blow-up doll develops a soul and falls in love with a video store clerk.
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April 5, 2019