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Monday, August 23, 2010

Night at the Museum

Kudos to my Japanese porn-lovin’ friend (who insists he watches porn for their acting skills) who invited me to watch with him Air Doll. Kudos to also the organizers of the Japanese Film Festival who brought in this film, challenging the norms of plots.

We’ve seen toys coming alive (Toy Story), and animals talking (Dr Dolittle), but nothing raises my eyebrow as much as a blow-up doll coming alive. Yes, only the Japanese could think of that. Actually, I would too (damn it, I lost an opportunity in winning an award).
So I immediately put my hand up and bought that $10 ticket to the basement of the National Museum to watch that movie at 9pm on a Sunday night. This is its third RA screening, and all screenings were sold out within a day (told you Singaporeans are sexually repressed). It was an interesting mix of movie goers snaking outside the entrance. Many gays (do they use blow-up dolls?), many young couples and group of friends. Add in 2 or 3 Auntie and Uncles (happening leh).

I doubt you will get to see Air Doll anymore as the festival ends this weekend, I strongly urge you to find it someway or another. Or else, hopefully this review does it some justice.
The opening scene sees the air doll’s master enjoying a cupcake and a mug of coffee with the doll, talking to her as if she’s alive (starting with his problems at work, and then leading to what she thinks about skipping the bath tonight (hinting sex)).
He actually takes her out on dates, exactly like what a couple do except with with an inanimate object.
The audience laughed, me being very knowledgeable, I didn’t find it funny because the way the actor depicted the scene is very real because there IS a culture of lonely Japanese men and their dolls. It is also increasingly becoming “normal”. I’ve also heard that it is a crime to steal another man’s doll in Japan (Gasp, your doll screwed another man behind your back!)

The scene then changes to Nozomi’s middle aged master making love to her (with foreplay first, no less. And in other scenes, he takes a bath with her tenderly). At this point in the dark theatre, I blushed. Like how moaning sounds make me shy in public, the sound of squeaking inflatable and shuffling of plastic made me cover my eyes to reserve my innocence (who am I kidding!).
Kinky then turns to freaky. The next morning, Nozomi started coming alive. It’s almost like Child’s Play, except the doll is prettier. My hair stood a little seeing the inflatable take life (the human actress didn’t replace her immediately). Slowly, the air doll comes to life, filled with a soul and Bae Doo-Na, the Korean actress’s full nude glory falls upon our eyes, not once but many times in the film (even I lust for her body).

Exploring the world around her (like a new-born child), the actress did an impeccable job in mimicking a doll’s moves. Starting a double life as a human, she meets other people who are as empty and lonely inside as she is. Among those with which she comes into contact was a sweet hundred year-old man fond of telling stories (that always coincidentally ends up comforting her when she is down). Although at some point, she ended up in his home feeding him medicine while he lay in bed, and he suddenly asked IF SHE MINDED TOUCHING HIM.

Taking the cue (because she is a sex doll, after all), she reached below, and he said he actually meant his head, the one on top.

She also crossed paths with an ageing secretary, an elderly lady perpetually fretting about crime reports from the television and a spoilt child.

These characters are all scared of getting old and being alone, like any human being. Air doll is demonstrates very aptly of any metropolitan life where everybody is searching for tenderness. The film brings up many crucial questions: What is the meaning of the time between birth and death? Is it good to have a heart after all? What is left when we lose everything?

The movie then turns romantic as Nozomi suddenly realizes feelings of fondness for a co-worker in a video store (yes, she got a job at the video store nearby).
She leads a seemingly normal life in the day, discovering make-up to cover the doll lines on her body, buying clothes, having men lust after her, going on dates with her love interest, but rushes home at night to become the sex doll to her master she is originally born/ made for.
Along the way, she becomes an object of sex and her seemingly nice boss “raped” her but she was nonchalant because she IS made for sex after all (with her boss commenting that “your sort (air dolls) just have sex with every man, isn’t it?) I LOVE the fact that they didn’t let even the littlest detail go about the whole process of making love to an air doll. They showed Nozomi’s master cleaning the onahole (fake pussy) that is within Nozomi as casually as he is washing the dishes. Also, Nozomi herself removing her own fake pussy and washing it after she was raped by her boss (like how a real woman would scrub herself vigorously after being raped).

Nozomi’s love interest Junchii found out she’s an air doll one day when she accidentally pricked herself at work, and started to deflate right in front of his eyes (it starts getting really weird, as with all Japanese films). He then breathes life into her, literally giving her a blow job (looks like it too, how sensual the scene looked). The air doll confessed to him that she likes him and would do anything for him. He then confessed he has a fantasy that no one else will be able to fulfill it but her. At this time, I don’t know why but I kept thinking ANAL SEX!!!

His sick fetish was to see her deflate, then give her a blow job, then deflate her again, then give her a blow job again. Consecutively, it happened 4 times.

Then the movie started to slant towards horror. As Nozomi keeps lamenting that she is empty inside (because she is an inflatable, remember? An air-head!), Junchii comforts her by saying he is also empty inside. However, it was really just a metaphor for the emptiness of urban living, that as a population as a whole or even on an individual level, we are all empty in some way. Alas, the naïve air doll took it to mean that Junchii is ALSO an air doll himself so she thought she’ll return that sick fetish favor by slitting him up and trying to blow air into him! Blood, blood everywhere (like a horror movie).

Realizing that Junchii is dead, she intelligently packed his body in a thrash bag and place him in the ‘burnable garbage’ pile, whilst she knows she will belong in ‘non-burnable’, being plastic.

Nozomi’s life comes to an end when she lives out her existence when her master bought a new doll to replace her (but still calling the new doll Nozomi) when she started to MIA on him because her heart is now with Junchii. I loved the fact that this plot demonstrated how our current technological urban sprawl eventually leads us to so much emptiness within. It also enhanced the Japanese culture, whereby they have a particularly guarded approach to life which involves a public face and a private world. This is exemplified with the character of Hideo, Nozomi’s master who spends all day submissive to his haughty restaurant superiors and dismissive customers, yet at night in his cramped apartment, he creates his own world built with his air doll who is named after his ex-girlfriend.

I got to admit, I wanted to watched this film because it’s going to be full of mindless sex that will corrupt my innocent mind (who am I kidding!). I even told my friend before going in, that if it has less sex scenes than I expected, I’m going to scold him for wasting my money. Instead, I came out feeling enlightened (not a sinner), because it evokes a lot of questions about my own immortality, and my legacy.
Nozomi, being an air doll met her creator at some point and realises her reason for existence (fulfilling loneliness of men and being a substitute for sex),and also realises that she is mass produced and can be created again and again in the same replica.
In reality, psychotic as it may sound, when somebody dies, there’s always a child that is born at the same moment. Not that I believe in reincarnation, but is a new life with a new illusion of being irreplaceable and unique? Or perhaps we just have some moments to breathe, until we leave again some day?

It seems life

is constructed in a way

that no one can fulfill it alone.

Life contains its own absence,

which only an other can fulfill.


ros said...

hi christine, as recommended, i went to watch air doll cough*btjunkie*cough and it was kinda totally depressing. but i liked it nonetheless! her childlike innocence is quite cute, until she kills the guy la. haha

Xtine said...

i hope you didn't feel cheated by my review! ;p

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