You knew it was coming. Ever since the first nerd saw the Disney movie, you knew this day was coming. A modern day Pinocchio … with a blow up doll instead of a puppet. Contrary to the way I built it up, this is not the movie you think it is. From director Hirokazu Kore-eda (“After Life” and “Nobody Knows”), “Air Doll” has already already been lauded at Cannes and Toronto, and from what I can see on the web, I think it deserves more.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: this is your standard Pinocchio derivative. An inanimate anthropomorphic object is created to do menial tasks while privately, maybe even secretly, filling a void in the owner/maker’s heart. In this case, the object is Nozomi (Bae), a blow up doll, rather air doll (much classier), in standard Japanese maid/schoolgirl garb, created by Sonoda (Joe Otagiri) and sold to Hideo (Itsuji Itao) for the obvious purposes. Now, here’s the catch, Hideo doesn’t know Nozomi has a soul. So while he goes to work, she plays “Bicentennial Man,” eventually falling in love with a video store clerk Junichi (Arata).
When I saw this trailer, I got an unexpected (and not unwelcomed) scent of “Lost In Translation” in the filming style. The drama was subtly presented, letting the cast work the movie rather the drama driving the action. The romance was artistically done, especially given the fact that Nozomi’s a blowup doll. This movie could very well have been a tribute to the Japanese porn industry, instead it’s a quality, clean romance that pushes the envelope on what I’m now going to start calling “anthropomorphic romances.”
The Akron Film Festival will take place Sept. 23 through Sept. 26 in Akron, Ohio. Click here for more information.
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