(Hirokazu Kore-eda; Japan; 2009)
I've found my interest in Kore-eda's films dropping off incrementally with each film since his grand 1998 effort After Life. This has redressed a little with Air Doll. Just a little, mind you. The film is a modernised fairy tale not just because of the theme of a sex doll finding a heart and coming to life, but also because of its reflection of the darker and sadder parts of human existence. The joy of discovery that Nozomi the sex doll experiences, as she explores the world around her, is replaced with the pain of recognising the true reason for her existence – to appease the loneliness of others. The sequences of glimpses into the lonely lives of others in her neighbourhood are achingly rich, but I'm getting thoroughly sick of the sickly-sweet tinkly-winkly soundtracks that Japanese films use to let us know that these moments are poignant. I wonder if the film would have improved a great deal if there was no soundtrack at all.