Air Doll (Kûki ningyô)

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 23


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,350
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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 heart, flesh and soul of a human being. Unfamiliar with the world outside Hideo's apartment, Nozomi tentatively learns to walk, dress herself and venture out into the neighborhood, where she mimics the speech and habits of others. Hideo is surprised when he discovers his "air doll" has come to life, but he soon adjusts to Nozomi's new form. But Nozomi begins learning about the pain and confusion that having a heart can bring when she gets a job at a video store and falls in love with one of her co-workers, Junichi (Arata). As she struggles with her feelings, she seeks out her creator -- Sonoda (Joe Odagiri), the designer who invented the model of doll she used to be. Kuki Ningyo (aka Air Doll) was an official selection at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where it was screened as part of the "Un Certain Regard" program. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


Critic Reviews for Air Doll (Kûki ningyô)

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (6)

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

    Jun 24, 2010 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • A charming, richly textured fable that touches on fundamental questions of existence.

    Jun 18, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 3, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • This follow-up, despite having been in the works for years, feels a tad rushed.

    May 16, 2009 | Full Review…

    Mike D'Angelo

    AV Club
    Top 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
  • 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…

    Derek Elley

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Air Doll (Kûki ningyô)

  • May 31, 2015
    It is frustrating to see an interesting premise be made into such an overlong film that fails because of its thematic ambition and lack of focus, as it tries to be about a good too many things at the same time and doesn't know how to fully explore them into a consistent thesis.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 28, 2011
    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.
    Michael S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 18, 2010
    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.
    Luke B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 23, 2010
    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. .
    Lesley N Super Reviewer

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