Isola: Tajuu jinkaku sh˘jo (Isola: Multiple Personality Girl) Reviews
Worth a look, but be aware the course becomes muddied before it all becomes clear.
Dr.Nomura, a school psychologist, takes Yukari home and it's while there that the psychic learns of the case of a schoolgirl - Chihiro (Yu Kurosawa) with multiple personalities. One of these, it seems, is capable of inducing people to kill themselves. As Yukari investigates, she discovers that Chihiro had an out-of-body experience during the car crash which killed her parents.
The pretext of the film is what if your mind is fragmented during an out-of-body experience: supposing a part of it is left homeless, unable to return; supposing the pieces never quite gel, remain separate characteristics. Could that evil side - the Mr.Hyde - find a way to live beyond your body, to find a means of striking back at those who transgress against you?
The concept of multiple personalities is one fraught with controversy. Do they exist or are they created in unconscious collusion with the therapist - like recovered memories or other life experiences? Clearly, we all have different characters living within us, different aspects of our persona. We maintain an inner dialogue with self, maintain a coherent narrative of who we are and what we are at any given time or situation. What happens if we unravel those strands - can each become a coherent persona in its own right?
Based on a novel by Yusuke Kishi, "Isola" opens with great atmosphere and potential. Disjointed, enigmatic, it requires some concentration to knit the various strands together and understand the immediate logic of the film, but throughout the first half you are emotionally and intellectually engaged and moved to the edge of your seat. Yoshino Kimura is riveting in her psychic role. But the multiple personalities turn out to be something of a red herring.
It's not a bad film. It has plenty of atmosphere, plenty of potential, but somehow it just doesn't quite knit together as it approaches its denouement. The notion of the vengeance spirit is, by now, familiar in Japanese movies, but while "Isola" sets up all the logic and backstory for this, the conclusion doesn't quite build enough tension to make it a wholly satisfactory film. It's stylish, it's enjoyable, it's well made, but it just lacks that vital punch.
Good picture and sound quality on the DVD, but the extras are seriously limited - a couple of very brief interviews with two of the actors, and that's about it. Like the film itself, the extras just lack that little bit of punch. Worth watching, but you'll feel it could have been better.