A present-day fable for the increasing disconnect we find in urban life, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Air Doll transports the Galatea myth to present day Tokyo.
A life-size air doll (Bae Doona, The Host) lives in a shabby apartment in Tokyo. She cannot speak, nor can she move. But she is the only companion her middle-aged master has. He talks to her, puts her in a bath, and makes love with her every day after he returns from work.
This routine life is disrupted when fantasy turns into reality. The air doll suddenly comes to life, filled with a soul. Like a newborn baby, she doesn’t understand what is going on around her, but she sees a world waiting to be explored outside the apartment. Eventually venturing to the outside world, the air doll is fascinated by everything she sees, and though she meets many people in all walks of life, they can’t seem to provide her an answer to what “being alive” means.
When the air doll wanders into a video store, her world is forever changed. She meets Junichi (Arata Iura, After Life), the clerk, and immediately falls in love with him. The air doll begins working in the store and everyday, she and Junichi become closer. They go to the movies and explore the city together…like a couple. Everything is going perfectly for the air doll, until one day when her hand is accidentally cut and she begins to deflate in front of Junichi…
A romantic fantasy that explores the complexities of love and loss, joy and pain, fantasy and reality, this bittersweet love story examines the intricacies and frailties of human existence.
Adapted from the manga by Yoshiie Goda and featuring breathtaking cinematography from Mark Lee Ping-Bing (In The Mood For Love).
Cannes Film Festival Official Selection 2009 and Winner
Toronto International Film Festival Official Selection 2009
“An achingly beautiful meditation on loneliness and longing in the city.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“One of those films that can haunt viewers long after they’ve left the theater.” – NPR
About the filmmaker
Born in Tokyo in 1962. Originally intended to be a novelist, but after graduating from Waseda University in 1987 went on to become an assistant director at T.V. Man Union. Snuck off set to film Lessons from a Calf (1991). His first feature, Maborosi (1995), based on a Teru Miyamoto novel and drawn from his own experiences while filming August Without Him (1994), won jury prizes at Venice and Chicago. The main themes of his oeuvre include memory, loss, death and the intersection of documentary and fictive narratives.