Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Pictures from Dolls and one Shot from the Hotel Yorba video After not having been at the movies for what feels like ages, I was happy to see that Takeshi Kitano's Dolls / ドールス [official, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes]was on at a local arts cinema. After having seen Hana Bi and Brother before, I was quite keen to see this film as well.

In fact I feared that the film wouldn't be screened in Göttingen at all and had already downloaded a copy through the wonders of file sharing. But seeing that the film was being screened after all, I could save myself the effort to track down the matching subtitles file and watch a properly subtitled film on the big screen instead – or what is considered a 'big screen' in a small cinema anyway. And it was well worth it: The film is great, slowly paced and has fantastic colours and filming that would have been lost when watching a compressed version on a computer anyway.

Judging from the other two films I had seen, I expected there would be some Japanese mafia action again. And while this wasn't absolutely absent, I should stand corrected. Instead, the film contains three separate tragic stories that focus on love and persistence.

One of them is about a couple that is split when he wants to marry his boss' daughter instead. She tries to kill herself, he learns about it at her wedding and takes her slightly demented self from the hospital. They walk the country tied together with a rope – an image strangely reminding me of The White Stripes' video for Hotel Yorba.

But I don't want to tell everything that happens here – it's not a lot anyway, despite the film being 114 minutes long. Long in a good way. And in a strange way: While it certainly was slow at times, it wasn't slow in a boring way. Just imagine the length – and perceived length – of a scene where two people are filmed from a distance and walk all the way across the screen. That's a long time for little action.

However, the images are so gorgeous that you don't want the scene to end. The colours are incredibly intense – and not in an artificial way like in One Hour Photo, say, but in a way that makes the reds look redder the greens greener and the whites whiter – naturally. In a few scenes they walk through valleys that are full of red-leaved trees.

Looking further than the colours, the rest of the film is good looking as well. Be it the reassuringly solid sounding doors, the boldly yellow car (did it inspire Kill Bill or didn't it?), the ever-so-clear and perfectly rolling tears and raindrops, or the subtly stylish clothes. Those things are there to be looked at twice.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

March 6, 2004, 1:07

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