The most astonishing moment of Air Doll came about 25 minutes into the film, when I idly checked who the main actress was, and discovered it was none other than Bae Doo-na, the Korean actress who played the Korean schoolgirl in “Linda Linda Linda”! I couldn’t believe it – I really hadn’t seen any similarity at all. Watching on, there were some quirky movements that match moments of her performance in that film, but I really think they look so different!
Apart from that, Air Doll was slightly disappointing. Maybe this was because of over-expectation. Hirokazu Koreeda is an excellent director judging from past expreience – the haunting Dare Mo Shiranai is so sad, stark and brutal that for all its brilliance I don’t really want to watch it a second time, while Aruite Mo Aruite Mo (Still Walking) is a fine family art house drama in the Ozu mould, beautiful and microcosmic in its depiction of a family with all their faults and quirks. Air Doll, or Kuki Ningyo, was billed as a study of loneliness in the Tokyo metropolis, and what it means to be human. There were some touching moments, usually when Bae Doo-na – who is an extremely accomplished actress – drifts around to saddening music – yet overall the film dragged a bit. There is not enough narrative to sustain the 2 hour length, while the twist at the end felt more gruesome than saddening, as perhaps it should have done. I still found a lot to like, and the idea was bold and interesting, even if it didn’t quite work enough for me. So – not as bad as some reviews seem to think, but not as good as I expected either. ★★★½