Have you guys heard of the film playing at Cannes called Air Doll? I have a friend at the festival who was texting me about it.
Get this. From Dan Fainaru in Screen: "Based on manga comic The Pneumatic Figure of a Girl, about a lifesize blow-up doll that stops being 'a cheap substitute for sexual satisfaction' and becomes a real person, Air Doll is a philosophical and poetic essay on such weighty matters as innocence, solitude, women as sex objects, the proximity of life and death and the uniqueness of human beings. It wants to be light, airy, smiling and sad at the same time - just like real life. Although the bill may be too ambitious and [Hirokazu] Kore-eda's approach too diffused, Air Doll does offer food for thought, poetical imagination galore, a touching performance by Korean actress Bae Doo-na in the lead part and superb, crystal-clear images provided by Hong Kong cameraman Mark Lee Ping-bing (In the Mood for Love)."
That’s just hilarious.
A few reviews have posted around the web:
Here’s Boston Globe’s Wesley Morris:
After Spring Fever and Fish Tank, Air Doll, from the newly prolific Hirokazu Kore-eda, rounded out a remarkable 12-hour binge of sex and suffering. The movie is the least expected film of the three, a kind of comedy about a Japanese loner (Itao Itsuji) whose plastic sex doll comes to terrific life in the form of Bae Doo-na. Dressed for a while in a French chambermaid's uniform (the epitome of fetishistic "sexee"-ness), the doll gets a job at a video store and falls in love with a meek co-worker.
The task of keeping her inflated creates obvious sexual metaphors, but as a comic disquisition on man's backhanded use for woman, the movie entertains. There is something here, and I liked it. There's a bit of Nagisa Oshima's sensual sex-tragedies and evident evocations of the Pinocchio tale. The movie has charm, yet -- despite the sad dénouement -- feels slight (apropos of that title, it's airy and hot, though I mean the "hot" part only erotically).
David Phelps at Auteurs’ Notebook:
Pinocchio: a sex doll comes to life, discovers she’s got a "heart." Amelie: But life, a heart, means a set tic, or routine (one character’s bulimic, another eats eggs every morning), ersatz characterization. Lolita: the thesis excuses lazy screenwriting—everyone’s hollow; such is the modern world. Garden State: Anyway, love’s better than personality. Still Walking: full-bodied and empty-headed, poses the preciousness to be tapped. There, a mother chased around a butterfly in the night believing it’s her dead son. Here, a guy’s ex-girlfriend is reincarnated instead as an erotic air toy. Life is Beautiful: life is beautiful.
And here’s Maggie Lee at The Hollywood Reporter:
Just a whiff of a story, Air Doll is aesthetically so exquisitely packaged, and so tenderly directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda that the urban fairytale about an inflatable sex doll come to life gradually unfurls as an achingly beautiful meditation on loneliness and longing in the city, and a reflective look on a consumerist culture that encourages easy substitutes and disposability, even of humans and feelings… That the air doll personifies the human yearning for fulfillment through companionship is spelled out a little too bluntly when she is accidentally deflated, and Junichi resuscitates her by blowing into her belly button. But their affair has a sensuality that floats above the artificiality of the plot.
Here’s the official website.