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Air Doll

A Sex Doll's Life

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Air Doll is a fantastical film from Japanese auteur Hirokazu Koreeda. It's premise sounds a bit hokey, but it's a film less about eroticism and more about digging into the meaning of our existence. It doesn't hit all the philosophical marks it sets out to, and it's not as engaging as a film about a sex doll coming to life should be, but it's quiet, meditative aura creates moments of pure beauty fit for the big screen.

Like Lars and the Real Girl, it doesn’t exploit its erotic subject. Instead it uses it to explore deeper meanings and human relationships. In this case its Nozomi’s wonderful Pinocchio-like story. The object of lonely Hideo’s desire, she exists more as a companion than as a sexual object. However, when she comes into existence, she hides her secret from her “owner”. Instead, she wanders the streets by day watching and mimicking humanity, slowly becoming more human than doll. Yet, like Pinocchio, she has yet to become a “real” girl.

Her wanderings lead her to get a job at a local video store where she now becomes the object of Arata’s objection. Soft spoken and kind, he seems a similar outsider like her, a kindred soul. Still she returns to Hideo, now playing the part of a doll. But as she becomes more human, she, like all people, begins to question her own existence. No longer dazzle by mere being, she starts struggling with her new life.

It’s a quiet film that says more through its images than it does through words. That alone makes it quite beautiful. Still it’s inundated with subtle meaning and questions for which the viewer must provide the answers.

Despite depicting a wonderful transformation for Nozomi, it feels light on character development and story. It yearns to glide on by like a gust of wind, but its questions are so loaded that it ends up feeling uneven. Ultimately, it depicts humanity in all of its flaws with Nozomi as its innocent protagonist. Its story may be light, but it’s too beautiful a film to pass up.