Film Review: Air Doll

The 'happy' couple

I think it’s fair to say that men are quite often driven more by the thing between their legs than their actual brains. There has been enough evidence of this, over the years, to fill every book ever written. It hasn’t passed filmmakers by either. Movies such as Mannequin and Lars and the Real Girl tackle this subject in different ways but Air Doll turns the theme of loneliness on its head.

Hideo (Itsuji Itao) is a middle-aged waiter living alone except for his inflatable sex doll, who he has named Nozomi (Bae Doona) after his ex-girlfriend. One day she suddenly gains consciousness and a heart. Awed by this turn of events, she wanders the streets fascinated by the world around her. Even taking up a job in a video store where she becomes involved with another employee (Arata Iura).

While, on the face of it, Air Doll might sound like a strange idea for a film, it’s actually an ingenious way to tackle the subject of sadness. Doona is superb in her wide-eyed wonder but it’s Hirokazu Koreeda’s brilliant direction and writing (with Yoshiie Goda) that makes everything work. Instead of concentrating on the lonely men who use her, Air Doll focuses on the titular heroine. The loneliest person in the world.

Air Doll will be released in US cinemas and on VOD on 4 February.

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