Plot: Nozomi - it is the name given to an average rubber air doll by his master, one lonely middle-aged clerk. The sex doll is the only object he use for splashing out his emotions. He used to dine with the doll at one table, talking about his life and make love to her before turning in for the night. Suddenly the doll comes to life, filled with a soul. Everything is new to her in the world outside. She meets all kinds of people. The world is filled with so many beautiful things, but everyone seems to have some kind of hollowness, just as she has. One day she meets Junichi, shop-boy at a rental video store, and secretly falls in love. She hatches a plan to get a part-time job in the store alongside him and every day they become closer to each other.
Based on Yoshiie Goda's manga 'The Pneumatic Figure of a Girl' (2000).
Hirokazu Koreeda stated that the film took 9 years from planning stages until completion.
Debuted in the 'Un Certain Regard' section at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2009. Later it was shown at film festivals in Toronto (September 2009), Vancouver (October 2009), Pusan (October 2009), Hawaii (October 2009), Hong Kong (October 2009), Rotterdam (January 2010). Released in Japanese cinemas on 26 September 2009.
At first glance, this film appears to be a love story. However, the core issues I am dealing with are about human nature: can men ever fill up their own hollowness? What is the meaning of life? What is a human being? The film speaks of the loneliness of urban life, for both men and women.
The scene where the doll sheds a tear, deflates, and is reinflated by the man she loves, seemed powerfully erotic to me. I also felt it had huge cinematographic potential, the idea is that air from another person could be a metaphor for sexuality. It was important to me to be able to explore my favorite themes through the eyes of the air doll… If my film is a circle, and I am in the center of the circle, I always try to expand it in all possible directions. I can go from concentrating on telling the story, to concentrating on the physical dimension of the human body, and so on. This film is the latest challenge I've given myself.
«Like his main actress, Koreeda succeeds in expressing contradictory emotions in a single film, and often within a single scene or even a single shot. ... Though overlong (another weakness of recent Japanese film) at 126 minutes, Air Doll is a great achievement on the part of a director who has already been praised to the heavens by some - it may well be the film that convinces all the others.»
«Sadly most of the good will the film does engender vanishes come a climax which has to rank as one of the most horribly mishandled on film in quite some time. ... There's enough here after Hana (2006) to suggest there's some potential in Kore-Eda pursuing genre work after the social dramas that made his name, but right now Air Doll feels like little more than a horribly missed opportunity.»
«"Was something, anything, beautiful?" Hopefully something was, but on the scale of transferable insights, the aesthetic rapture of the pneumatic lass rates somewhere in the vicinity of the sorrows of the weeping clown, pimped in this case by a film and a director who feel simultaneously embarrassed, lascivious, blankly indulgent, and dully distracted at the prospect of pramming her around.»
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