15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Kotoko [DVD] (DVD)
Kotoko is an intensely disturbing and powerful film by Shinya Tsukamoto one of the most important and bold filmmakers working today. His previous films include Tetsuo, Vital, Nightmare Detective, Tokyo Fist and A Snake of June. In this film, Kotoko (played by Cocco) is a very disturbed woman with a baby who experiences double vision and paranoid fantasies. She cannot tell reality from fantasy and as a result is a threat to her self and her child. She self-harms and becomes hysterical and very violent at everyday challenges such as her baby crying or strangers approaching her in the street. As a result of this her baby is taken away from her. She then meets a writer (played by the director) devoted to her whom she begins a masoschistic relationship with. When she eventually gets her son back Kotoko only spins more out of control than ever.
What Tsukamoto does so well is use visual techniques and the performance of Cocco to immerse you in her world. As a viewer you feel like you are inside her head rather than an observer and its a very scary place to be. Between the outbursts of screaming and crying, bloody self harm and fantasy there are moments of serenity and beauty such as when she sings and dances in the rain. There is also humour as when she repeatedly stabs men in the hands with forks. There is one scene of extreme violence against her son towards the end of the film which I found hard to stomach. The performance of Cocco is excellent and natural. She weaves her own experiences into the performance and Tsukamoto shows how well he can direct actors and evoke the emotions he wants from them. The themes of violence, alienation, fear and transformation from his previous films are all present. Visually the film is dizzying at times with hand held camera, dissolves, natural light and some striking use of colour and surrealism.
Kotoko is a serious film and in my opinion an artistic work that deserves the critical acclaim it has received. It is a long way from the mainstream and this should be understood if you intend to watch it. It's worth having some appreciation of the director and his previous films beforehand. For those who like challenging films outside of the mainstream it is vital viewing and comes highly recommended. You might not enjoy it as such but you will certainly appreciate it as a serious piece of filmmaking.