DNA cinephile🏳️🌈’s review published on Letterboxd:
Air Doll. 2009. Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda.
Bae Doona is one of my favorite actresses that I was introduced to in Sense8 (2015 to 2018). I felt an immediate connection to her kick ass acting style. In Air Doll (2009), Koreeda delivers a somewhat feminist arch in his fairy tale of a sex doll (Bae Doona) coming to life and falling in love with a video store clerk. This premise may sound shallow but the depth of life that Koreeda infused into his screenplay with Yoshiie Goda was nothing short of brilliance. Yes there is nudity but, there is an ancient story being told about life, life force (chi, prana, etc.), sex, and love. Tokyo can be a demanding city and having a companion such as a doll creates a means of relaxing.
Bae Doona’s character Nozomi awakens and feels water dripping into her palm and she says,“beautiful.” As she falls in love with life she realizes she does not love her current owner/lover. So, she goes on a journey (a heroes quest) and meets her true love. At this point, she must decide who she will share her loyalty, time, sexuality, and intellectual dimensions. However, along her journey, she meets a disabled man, and a little girl who loves dolls. Without giving the whole story away, Koreeda works with the elements of earth, air, water, and fire to illustrate how all sentient beings are interconnected and at the same time his story comes full circle and delivers the usual Koreeda plot/narrative gut punch. In addition, Koreeda showcases plants as they undergo photosynthesis and provide us with air (which Nozomi is made of). The dandelion (Taraxacum officianale) is her symbolic poetic plant of great importance in Air Doll.
Koreeda uses his After Life thesis “what would be your last thought before dying” in a scene when Nozomi (is loosing air/oxygen) which was given to her by her true love, she has a dream of a birthday party being held for her. Unfortunately, she did not want to lose her true love’s air/oxygen/life force to blow out candles. She only wanted to retain as much of his love inside as possible.
After her death, she is literally in the garbage and there is a dandelion near her and it releases its achenes (parachuted seeds) that float to all the people she encountered along her journey. Hence, showing her connection with humans via oxygen and an obscure form of love and respect.
Overall, Air Doll is a unique tale that needed attention and Koreeda was the competent auteur to tackle a feminist fairy tale bordering on fantasy while utilizing Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Quest. This is an outstanding film with nudity of a lovely South Korean actress, Bae Doona doesn’t offend one or ones family as she (like Pinocchio) comes to life and immediately connects with beauty and love. In addition, she is drawn to the love of her life and must leave her current owner. Make time in your schedule to watch this on YouTube. It is Japanese translated into Spanish. That might pose a problem for some but Spanish was my language of study from high school to getting my PhD in 2005.
Viewed on YouTube in Spanish.
Hirokazu Koreeda Ranked
Sensual & Erotique Films
Asian Cinema (East Asia)
Top 500 films by DNA