Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dolls review

Dolls tells three love stories of flawed relationships tied together by the dominating tale of a groom-to-be’s return to a past love he mistreated. One sub-story deals with an old yakuza boss returning to his eccentrically faithful love from the past, and another about a fan’s obsession and relationship with a pop star.

The Good?
Technically, this film is gorgeous. It’s full of beautiful seasonal scenery and images of vivid, meticulous color choice. There are flashes of classical Japanese culture with masks, puppets, music and exotic locations, but we’re reminded of the modern setting with a flashy J-pop music video as well. The visuals, coupled with Joe Hisaishi’s ambiance creates a strongly wistful mood.

The main story is very touching. Kitano tells a potentially melodramatic story in a very minimalist, contemplative style full of long, silent walks and frequent staring. The relationship is heartbreaking, yet their actions are so slight and restrained.

The film is rich with symbolism and multiple, dense layers of meaning. It is endlessly interpretable. Even though Kitano has made dramatic movies in the past, this is his most serious one to date. There’s only one joke.

The Bad?
While the main story captures our hearts, the other two relationships, although unique, fail to create that same connection. Both of these minor relationships are built on a really odd foundation that can easily weird us out in a few instances and it is hard to earn back the empathy.

The film is very slow, sometimes without much reason. It can be a trial to sit through and isn’t conventionally entertaining. The viewer must be prepared and in a certain state of mind.


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