Review: ‘AIR DOLL’ is filled with complexity and enchantment.


In AIR DOLL, the Galatea myth is transported to present day Tokyo, when an inflatable sex doll named Nozomi (Doona) finds that she has grown consciousness and a heart.

Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters) 2009 film Air Doll is finally available for US audiences. Overflowing with whimsey, the film is based on the manga series Kuuki Ningyo by Yoshiie Gōda. Underneath the lightheartedness is an engrossing study in grief and the complexities of humanity. Air Doll is a genre-bending wonder.

The relationship with coworker Junichi (a brilliant Arata Iura) sums up the film best. His suspension of disbelief and/or the immediate acceptance of Nozomi’s reality puts the audience into a whirl of complicated emotions. Their journey will mystify you. Bae Doona is so enchanting. If you weren’t already a fan of her work on Sense8 or The Host, you’ll fall in love with her in Air Doll. Her performance is like watching a meta character study. Doona’s toddler-like wonder fills every beat with joy. But, it’s the underlying sadness that takes Air Doll to the next level. The longing for genuine connection while navigating social graces and newfound emotions is nothing short of fascinating.

Is it fair to categorize Air Doll as an unusual coming-of-age story? Perhaps, a story of enlightened consciousness would be better suited. Air Doll is yet another perfectly thoughtful addition to Dekanalog‘s collection of films. It begs larger questions of existence and life, exploring the meaning of happiness on a grander scale. The film’s evolution is endlessly surprising. You won’t be able to look away. Air Doll is truly something special.

AIR DOLL, from director Hirokazu Kore-eda, hits U.S. cinemas and VOD on February 4th!

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

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