is a film of extraordinary beauty and tenderness from a filmmaker chiefly associated with grave mayhem and deadpan humor. That is to say, this is not one more Takeshi Kitano movie focused on stoical cops or gangsters. The title refers most directly, but not exclusively, to the theatrical tradition of Bunraku, enacted by half-life-size dolls and their visible but shrouded onstage manipulators. Such a performance--a drama of doomed lovers--occupies the first five minutes of the film, striking a keynote that resonates as flesh-and-blood characters take up the action.
The film-proper is dominated by the all-but-wordless odyssey of a susceptible yuppie and the jilted fiancée driven mad by his desertion to marry the boss's daughter. Bound by a blood-red cord, they move hypnotically through a landscape variously urban and natural, stylized only by the breathtaking purity of light, angle, color, and formal movement imposed by Kitano's compositional eye and rigorous, fragmentary editing. Along the way we also pick up the story of an elderly gangster, haunted by memories of the lover he deserted three decades earlier and generations of "brothers" for whose deaths he was, in the accepted order of things, responsible. Another strand is added to the imagistic weave via a doll-like pop singer and a groupie blinded by devotion to her.
This is a film in which character, morality, metaphysics, and destiny are all expressed through visual rhyme and startling adjustments of perspective. It sounds abstract--and it is--but it's also heartbreaking and thrilling to behold. Kitano isn't in it, but as an artist he's all over it. His finest film, and for all its exoticism, his most accessible. --Richard T. Jameson
Cult director Takeshi Kitano weaves together three visually stunning and deeply touching stories of undying love inspired by traditional Japanese Bunraku puppet theatre. The first story concerns a rising young executive who turned his back on his girlfriend in pursuit of his career. Following a failed suicide attempt, which leaves her in a mindless daze, he runs to his former loves side and now they roam the country together, bound by a red cord, in search of something they have lost. The second is about an ageing yazuka who also abandoned his girlfriend for the sake of success. 30 years later, he is compelled to return to the park where they used to meet. The final tale is of a former pop star who becomes a recluse following a disfiguring accident. One day, one of her greatest fans comes to prove the extent of his devotion to her