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Archive for June 2nd, 2012

Dolls (2002)

Dolls contains three modern love-tragedy stories on the nature of unrequited love and abandonment which span the four seasons in Japan. It starts out in a bunraku doll theatre where it leads into the stories:

Matsumoto and Sawako were once a happy couple that seemed destined for marriage. But the age-old pressures of meddling parents and success forced the young man to make a tragic choice. She now wanders around in a mindless daze, bound safely to Matsumoto by a long red cord. To curious eyes, they roam aimlessly. But Matsumoto and Sawako are on a journey in search of something they have forgotten. A journey that will cover the four seasons.

Hiro is an aging yakuza boss. Although surrounded by respect and affluence, Hiro is alone and his health is failing. Thirty years ago, he was a poor factory worker with a loving girlfriend who brought him lunch in the park. But he abandoned her to search for his dreams of making it big. Now, 30 years later, he is drawn back to the park where they used to meet…

Pretty Haruna Yamaguchi spends a lot of time on an isolated beach, looking at the sea. Her beautiful face is half-covered in bandages. Not long ago, before the accident, Haruna was a successful pop idol who lived alone in a glamorous world of TV shows and autograph sessions. Millions adored her, longed to be close to her. Nukui is probably her most devoted fan. He has come today to prove it…

Takeshi Kitano wrote and directed this stunning movie which uses a lot of symbolism. Although Kitano is known mostly for his gangster movies, he can also turn his artistic talent to other genres too. I think a lot of people were surprised when this movie was released as it was unlike anything that he had done up to that point. It showed another side to him. The story follows the fate of three very different couples, linking their plights with that of a couple from a 17th-century bunraku puppet theatre play, two sequences of the performance which open and close the movie. The opening shots of the dolls coming to life at the hands of master puppeteers are nothing short of fantastic. The movie slowly but surely draws the viewer into the characters’ inner worlds. There’s a certain unreal, fairy-tale like feel to the proceedings that creates an air of mystery. Dolls is visually superb. The use of vibrant colours to coincide with each passing season is excellent. You’ll notice that the colour red is shown quite a lot and the cinematography is top notch. This isn’t a movie for people that want a story that chugs along at a fair pace, Kitano takes his time and slows everything down. The acting is brilliant and the overall movie is haunting and completely absorbing. What I like about this movie is that it’s not the dialogue (what little there is) that tells the story but the visuals.

If there was ever a movie to show that Takeshi Kitano is a first rate director then this is it. It blew me away. Everything about it was more or less perfect. The themes of regret, sorrow, sadness, loss, and sacrifice is told beautifully here. On saying that, it’s not a movie for everybody but if you like slow paced movies which makes you think then you will love Dolls. A masterpiece.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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