Thursday, 14 November 2013

Real (リアル 完全なる首長竜の日) (2013)

J-horror auteur Kurosawa serves up his own, creepier version of Inception

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is better known as a J-horror auteur, even though his most acclaimed work is the modern drama Tokyo Sonata. Whether it’s horror or drama, his films thrive on the underlying obsessions, neuroses, and the bodily and spiritual decay of modern life.

In Real, Kurosawa expounds on his eternal themes in his return to the horror genre by way of Christopher Nolan’s Inception. With the help of experimental technology, a man enters the dream life of his wife, a manga artist and author, in order to extricate her from her year-long coma.

While the Nolan film was an exercise in expounding (and multiplying) Chuang-tzu’s paradox about the dreamer and the dream, Kurosawa’s film comes into its after own the first expository first act when the rescue mission narrative is subverted, deconstructed, and deformed into a psychological thriller. What if the dreamer doesn’t want to stop dreaming, for example? What lies behind every dream and within the subconscious mind but sublimated guilt, horror, and malice?

It’s a concept that should work well, except that Real is hampered by an over-long first act which is played entirely too straight. It’s only after a good half hour that Real stops feeling less like a low budget clone of Inception and more like a classic Kurosawa piece once the quiet menace takes over. And from then on, it’s a really good psychological horror piece.

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