Told in three interconnected segments, we follow a young man named Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, and finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to test the delicate petals of love.
One character in this beautifully crafted film buys a book entitled "The Meaning of Life." While we never discover exactly what that book contains, "$9.99" peruses questions about life's meaning with poignancy and affection. It's sad, silly, very human characters are people we know, and real enough so that we might occasionally forget we are watching animation.
This is not a film for the young there is no "action," no "romance," and little to make a viewer laugh out loud. Rather, we are offered a wryly comic look at human nature, best suited for those who have lived enough of life so as to be able to identify with the film's pathetically flawed characters, and look on them with affection rather than impatience or contempt.
Human beings, the filmmakers suggest, are rarely able to communicate with other human beings, even to express love to those they love most. They are even less likely to fulfill each other's hopes and expectations. It is a pessimistic outlook, to be sure, and rather depressing but, in the end, we are left with the message that love not only is possible, it is the only thing that gives life any meaning at all. Love crazy, misguided, or bizarre as it may be is all that matters.
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