Promoting this film as a fantasy has done it immeasurable damage in American markets, guaranteed to disappoint fantasy enthusiasts while turning away those not so inclined. How in the world did Asian Pulp Cinema acquire US rights to this film? and why? Never mind; just forget the packaging and promo material for this film; this is NOT science fiction or fantasy - in fact, it's not a genre film at all.
This is a straight drama using CGI to flesh out a world the lead character may or may not inhabit (it may just be a delusion, with the whole story taking place in a mental hospital). It's ambiguous ending must therefore be respected as a determined effort not to answer many of the questions the film raises.
The film raises these questions by allowing this world to metamorphose repeatedly, tossing off vague hints of what might be the reality the lead has such a difficult time confronting; and in keeping with this personalities change repeatedly, in very subtle ways. The characters we see in the final sequence are clearly somehow not the people we first meet them as; yet these changes are not wrought through developing character traits, but simply effacing some traits and replacing them with others.
As with Christopher Nolan's "Memento" or the claustrophobic mystery "Identity" (at least until the end), it is best for the audience view this without the hope that linear narrative will at last pop up and make everything clear. However, the experience certainly left me with a strong, if mixed, emotional impression. Well-acted, carefully written, crisply directed. I recommend it to anyone interested in contemporary Japanese cinema, and not simply those interested in "pulp cinema".
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