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Air Doll (Kūki ningyō)

Air Doll (Kūki ningyō) (2009)

tomatometer

60

Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.

audience

66

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 1,280

My Rating

Movie Info

A special kind of toy is suddenly introduced to the real world around her in this artful fantasy from Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda. Hideo (Itsuji Itao) is a middle-aged man who doesn't have many friends, but he wards off loneliness with his companion Nozomi (Bae Du-na), who joins him for dinner each evening and in bed afterwards. But Nozomi is actually an inflatable love doll that can't speak or move on her own -- or she can't until one morning when she discovers she's developed the

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All Critics (21) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (12)

The film's poignant depiction of human loneliness is undercut by saccharine notes and a drifting tone.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A charming, richly textured fable that touches on fundamental questions of existence.

June 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie is a fable etched in comedy, sadness, and mild existential philosophy. Yes, the object of Kore-eda's fairy tale is a life-size sex toy, but it's the size and emotional shading of the toy's new life that interests him.

June 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The urban fairytale about an inflatable sex doll come to life gradually unfurls as an achingly beautiful meditation on loneliness and longing in the city.

May 15, 2009
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Recut to a trim 90 minutes, this fragile yarn would work perfectly and have a chance of an afterlife as a specialty item. In its present form, pic may not get much farther than the fest netherworld.

May 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hirokazu's meandering, diffuse storytelling leaves the film feeling even longer than its near two hour running time, and it becomes difficult not to hope for the appearance of sharp objects just to introduce an element of suspense.

December 6, 2012 Full Review Source: The Skinny
The Skinny

Far smarter than 'Lars and the Real Girl'

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: UR Chicago Magazine

Air Doll wears that compassion on its sleeve a little too earnestly and humorlessly. Even an airhead could see that.

July 15, 2010 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Here's where I'm contractually obligated to refer to her performance as 'brave,' as that's trusty film-critic shorthand for 'naked a lot.'

July 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Weekly
Philadelphia Weekly

What's most interesting about the story is not its apparent oddness, but the fact it maintains a sense of fairy tale magic even while it's set in a cold and seemingly hollow world.

June 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Air Doll goes on far too long and plays with so many different themes that it seems more like a doodle than a film.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

A blow-up sex doll develops a soul and discovers a world

June 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Kind of like what Wim Wenders did in Wings of Desire, but here it's all hot air.

June 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

A sex-toy Pinocchio? Offenbach's Olympia as an inflatable courtesan? If only.

May 17, 2010 Full Review Source: House Next Door
House Next Door

The writer-director's interest in desire and longing is habitually channeled through quirky-quick brushstrokes that reduce the already borderline-pretentious proceedings into full-blown treacle.

May 17, 2010 Full Review Source: House Next Door
House Next Door

Although most of the movie is fantastical and wonderfully perceptive, it's nevertheless deflating to see Nozomi become a latex version of Eleanor Rigby.

February 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Film-Forward.com
Film-Forward.com

Frustratingly shallow, refusing to be about anything in particular. No, that's a lie: it's about a great many things, and it is horribly superficial about every one of them.

October 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Plays like a middling installment of some softballed international portmanteau like Paris, je t'aime, but maddeningly inflated to at least ten times the recommended scale.

October 7, 2009 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

This follow-up, despite having been in the works for years, feels a tad rushed.

May 16, 2009 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club

Although the bill may be too ambitious and Kore-eda's approach too diffused, Air Doll does offer food for thought.

May 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

Air Doll looks beautiful, and even though it bordered heavily on pretension, I went with it and was happy to give Kore-Eda the benefit of the doubt.

May 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Audience Reviews for Air Doll (Kūki ningyō)

A Japanese film about a sex doll that comes to life? What is it with these pathetic Japanese men I thought, perverts the lot of them! Then I watched the film and was silenced. It's not the sordid sex comedy I assumed, instead it is one of the most tender and loving films I've seen in recent years. Firstly, the cinematography is nothing short of beautiful. It's not at all about sex, it's more to do with succumbing and submission, being a slave to ones self. We are all sex dolls. It makes a number of well thought-out points in a unique and intelligent way. What did the Tin man do with the heart when he finally got it, was Pinocchio was underwhelmed once he became a boy? Sure, it is melancholy at times but the innocence and beautiful honestly is what is key to this films excellence. Hirokazu Koreeda's is a director I want to see more from.
January 10, 2014
SirPant

Super Reviewer

Despite what the unusual premise might lead you to believe, "Air Doll" is a very human, emotional, and strong work. Despite being a little too long and dragging in spots, I was captivated by this film through it's entire duration.
January 28, 2011
YLOWBSTARDreturns

Super Reviewer

I'm now a fully dedicated fan to the work of Hirokazu Koreeda. His films are endlessly lovable. Taking on strange ideas but presenting them with most earnestness. Here he does Toy Story/Pinocchio with a blow-up sex doll. She comes to life after her lonely owner leaves for work. She ventures around meeting people and begins to understand the world around her. She longs for a heart but soon finds with a heart comes great pain. This film is a realistic fantasy. Never once do we doubt the story that is being told. It deals with the objectification of women, and the loneliness of humanity. Koreeda never allows us to wallow in self-pity. He presents a montage of lonely characters which is absolutely crushing. He doesn't use cheap techniques, just showing people in their lives. Picking shell out of a cracked egg, dealing with picky customers, overhearing somebody else being chatted up. It's all done with such honesty you soon forget this is a story about a sex doll. Du-na Bae creates a fish out of water character looking for her purpose and happiness, without coming across as stupid or annoying. Her innocence drives the film and makes it all the more tragic. A wonderful piece.
July 18, 2010
kiriyamakazou

Super Reviewer

An inflatable doll comes alive when she grows a heart. Hirokazu Korreda certainly jumps around with his subject matter... bereaved widows, the after life, reluctant samurai and now this. I guess its all discussing the human condition, but while the film was interesting and unusual and kind of sad really, it jumped around until I wasn't sure what he was trying to say. Something about loneliness maybe, or objectification of women, or both... or either. With a macabre bit thrown in near the end. .
April 23, 2010
lesleyanorton
Lesley N

Super Reviewer

    1. Air Doll: We lead our scattered lives, perfectly unaware of each other. Or at times, allowed to find the other's presence disagreeable. Why is it, that the world is constructed so loosely? A horse fly, bathed in light, flies in close to a blooming flower. I, too, might have been someone's horse fly. Perhaps you, too, had once been my breeze.
    – Submitted by Angela T (17 months ago)
    1. Air Doll: It seems life is constructed in a way that no one can fulfill it alone.
    – Submitted by Angela T (17 months ago)
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