Air Doll

2009

Drama / Fantasy / Romance

6
IMDb Rating 6.9 10 4981

Synopsis


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Cast

Doona Bae as Nozomi
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
995.66 MB
1280*682
Japanese
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 5 min
P/S 6 / 36
1.87 GB
1920*1024
Japanese
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 5 min
P/S 5 / 24

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Howard Schumann 8 / 10

A sweet, sad fable about the loss of innocence

Korean actress Bae Doo-na is superb in Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda's latest film Air Doll. Shown at the Vancouver Film Festival, Air Doll is based on the Japanese manga The Pneumatic Figure of a Girl and tells the story of a life-size inflatable doll used as a sex object for a lonely waiter who finds a heart and becomes a real person. The film is supported by the enchanting photography of Mark Lee Ping-bing who worked with Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wei in In the Mood for Love, and poetic images abound. When the film opens, Hideo (Itao Itsuji), returns from work as a waiter and begins a conversation about his day and everything seems normal until we discover that he is talking to a doll propped up in bed that he calls Nozomi, (the name of his former girl friend). Though she is a mannequin, he tells her about his life, gives her a bath, dresses her, and has sex with her each night.

One morning, Nozomi (Bae Doo-na) wakes up and finds her heart and is transformed, at least as far as appearances are concerned, into an ordinary human being. Displaying the innocence of a child, Nozomi, dressed in a French chambermaid's uniform, goes out to explore the outside world and finds out what it means to be human (and how society treats women), picking up patterns of speech from neighbors, but comes home each night to resume her roll as the compliant inanimate doll for her master. Nozomi soon lands a job in a video store and quickly learns about movies though she has never seen one and develops a friendship with the attendant Junichi (Arata), while continuing to believe that her only function is to provide sexual pleasure.

Promoting the idea that everyone is empty at their core and must be fulfilled by the companionship of others, Koreeda introduces a host of minor characters such as an old poet who feels betrayed by the world, the doll maker who created her, a woman fearful of being left alone, and a bitter old woman. Junichi abruptly learns about Nozomi's non-human status, however, when she falls and pricks her arm and all the air is drained out of her. In a very erotic scene, Junichi inflates her by blowing air into the plug in her stomach and their relationship is sweet. Nozomi discovers, however, that being half human and half doll is not fulfilling and wishes to become fully human but cannot find anyone to help her, turning to her maker (God?) for assistance.

Air Doll is a sweet, sad fable about the loss of innocence and Bae Doo-na is funny and touching in the role of a childlike doll in the tradition of Pinocchio. While it is valuable to view the world from a childlike perspective and discover once again, for example, how beautiful the stars are, having a mannequin eventually become a mirror of humanity's dark side serves little purpose. Yes, life is ugly and beautiful, sad and full of joy, but this is hardly a revelation. The film, which took nine years from planning stages until completion, has important comments about alienation in the modern world, but at two hours the simple premise is stretched too thin. Koreeda makes the point repeatedly about the emptiness of humans, forgetting that cities are home not only to lonely, alienated, and empty people but to brilliant, fulfilled, and compassionate individuals who contribute much value to our world.

Reviewed by Kenji Chan 10 / 10

Move Thee Reviews: A Fractured Fairy Tale about Soulless City Life

Air Doll is a poetic, unhurried, beautifully shot and poignant movie which may remind you of Lars and the Real Girl, Artificial Intelligence, Enchanted, Cyborg She, Pinocchio and Toy Story, yet it distinguishes itself by its poetic quality and focus on the emptiness of city life.

Indeed, city dwellers resemble sex dolls. Lacking souls and uniqueness, they can be easily substituted by others. Nozomi's sex with three different men exploiting her and treating her as a substitute is one of the examples. Degrading themselves by treating each other as functional objects, they will be forgotten once they become useless. A dead person therefore is depicted as a piece of garbage.

Moreover, some city dwellers prefer to live alone and sometimes they feel lonely. The movie reminds us that humans should have companions. DVDs gradually replacing cinemas also indicates that people nowadays prefer solitude.

Apart from these, city slickers value money and sex more important than soul and love. For instance, a man prefers an air doll to a real woman and even a little girl prefers a ring to a doll given by her mother.

Despite the gloomy atmosphere, the movie reminds us of the cycle of life which consists of not only downs, but also ups. Although plants wither in winter, they grow in spring. Perhaps we should learn from Nozomi who tries to appreciate every moment of happiness, be it fleeting or lasting, for instance, gazing at stars and even a raindrop, admiring the breathtaking scenery in the city, embracing a man she has a crush on while riding on a motorcycle, etc. Indeed, Nozomi is already happier than other real human characters in the movie.

Starring as an inflatable sex doll with a soul, Korean actress Doona Bae (The Host, Linda Linda Linda) gives a convincing and dazzling performance in this Japanese movie. The audience will be amazed by every nuance of her expressions / movements and the daring naked scenes.

The renowned Taiwan cinematographer Mark Ping-bing Lee (In the Mood for Love) succeeds in capturing the mood of this lonely city by often panning his camera slowly to observe loners. The dreamlike music by World's End Girlfriend also adds much purity, mystery and melancholy to this fractured modern fairy tale.

Although the plot would become more substantial if other minor characters were further developed, they help illustrate how lonely and alienated humans are.

After seeing this haunting movie, one may leave the cinema with a heavy heart and a deep sigh, trying to feel one's long-lost soul and pondering on the meaning of ephemeral life.

Hirokazu Koreeda is one of my favorite directors and his previous movies like Maborosi, Nobody Knows and Still Walking are highly recommended.

Reviewed by John Kincaid 8 / 10

Hauntingly beautiful film

In short: A deep, thought-provoking, beautifully filmed, and well acted piece of Japanese cinema. Bae Doona is magnificent as an inflatable doll that develops a soul and falls in love. Hirokazu Koreeda wows once again with his deliberate film making, effectively commenting on social problems dealing with urban life. Despite the fact that it is a bit slow and a bit long, Air Doll is definitely one of the better films that I've seen recently.

I was finally able to watch this film (on DVD) and was impressed, more so than I thought I would be. To me, Air Doll includes aspects that make it attractive to both film festivals and commercial audiences. With the quirky and interesting premise of a sex doll that comes to life, Air Doll (which is lightly based on a manga) establishes itself as a film which seeks to appeal to modern audiences, specifically Japanese. This doll, "named" Nozomi (played by Korean actress Bae Doona), sneaks out of her owners house every day to go to work at a local video store. There, she falls in love with her coworker, Junichi (played by Arata), and learns about life--both the good and the bad.

What separates Air Doll from some of Koreeda's previous work is his choice of Mark Lee as cinematographer. He films the city of Tokyo beautifully, with long, gorgeous tracking shots. This is a departure from Koreeda's usual style, of which films like Nobody Knows and Still Walking are good examples (both being pretty un-commercial). I enjoyed the cameo's by some well-established actors, including Odagiri Joe as the doll maker, Susumu Terajima as a police officer, and Kimiko Yo as an aging woman obsessed with looking young, although they were definitely not noteworthy performances. I also enjoyed the music, which moved along with the pace of the film and effectively added emotional weight to select scenes.

Where I thought the film faltered was in length. It was too long, which is not a completely horrible fault in many cases, but towards the end I felt as if Koreeda had already established his point and needed to wrap it up. Length is a characteristic problem in many contemporary Japanese films. I feel as if this works for some (Love Exposure !?), but not for most. Another fault that I'd like to mention was the odd, Jdrama-like breaks in the scene where Nozomi is being repeatedly drained of air, then blown back up by Junichi in bed. The same shot was shown three times from different angles, which I found unnecessary and out of place. But that's just me being picky.

Air Doll attempts to illustrate to the viewer the loneliness that exists in an urban environment such as Tokyo. He does this perfectly with the inclusion of small side stories; a nerdy otaku, a lonely old man, an aging woman obsessed with beauty, a bulimic woman suffering from depression, and other lonely people. These characters only briefly appear on the screen, giving the impression of the fleeting encounters with strangers in a big city urban environment. Bae Doona's character of the doll, Nozomi, is the highlight of the movie. She plays the character perfectly, often condensing many emotions into one and displaying all of the quirkiness of a doll that has recently discovered life. It is interesting and perfect that Koreeda cast a Korean in the roll of the doll, as it further alienates the character from the rest of the cast as well as the audience. It is also interesting to note the fact that Bae Doona was very naked during the film (being a sex doll and all), a feat that not many Japanese actresses would even dare to do. She has been nominated for--and won many--awards for best actress.

--John Kincaid @ jkfilmjapan.wordpress.com/

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