Air Doll/Kuki Ningyo, is a film directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu, it was initally screened during the Un Certain Regard category of the Cannes Film Festival in May 2009 and then released in cinemas in Japan in September,it's recently had its release on dvd.The film is an adaption of the manga from Yoshiie Goda,and stars Korean actress Bae Doona as the doll, Nozomi,it's the first adaption of a book that Kore-eda has directed.His films have a spatial quality to them,watching his films i get the impression that the camera is taking in the events of the film as if by itself, 'Nobody Knows' an earlier film of his, although based on a true story of child neglect has a documentary feel to it. Air Doll opens with Hideo a middle aged man who works as a waiter in a fast food restaurant returning home conversing with his inflatable partner who he has named Nozomi,they eat dinner together and then Hideo sleeps with her.In the morning after Hideo has gone to work Nozomi twitches into life,first a blink of the eyes and movement of her limbs.She dresses into her apron outfit and ventures forth into the outside world of the city.'I found myself with a heart,a heart i wasn't supposed to have'. She gets a job working in a video/DVD rental store,and she befriends and eventually falls for her colleague Junichi, played by Arata, who one day,after she has accidentally punctured herself,finds himself re inflating her by blowing life giving air into her valve/belly button. Many of Kore-eda's films explore life's meaning and the emptiness of modern existence,at many points in the film as Nozomi encounters people of the city her thoughts about her own sense of emptiness,(in Nozomi's case literally air!) are confused with their feelings of spiritual emptiness.
Reading the wiki entry of the film some critics have mentioned that the film has a 'weak narrative core',but i think it only takes a small leap of the imagination to get the most out of this film. The soundtrack is by World's End Girlfriend and compliments Pin Bing Lee's fantastic cinematography,the cast is an excellent mix of some big names from Japanese cinema including Arata as Junichi,Susmu Terajima as Todoroki,and Jo Odagiri as the doll maker.