Synopsis by Mark Deming
A special kind of toy is suddenly introduced to the real world around her in this artful fantasy from Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda. Hideo (Itsuji Itao) is a middle-aged man who doesn't have many friends, but he wards off loneliness with his companion Nozomi (Bae Du-na), who joins him for dinner each evening and in bed afterwards. But Nozomi is actually an inflatable love doll that can't speak or move on her own -- or she can't until one morning when she discovers she's developed the heart, flesh and soul of a human being. Unfamiliar with the world outside Hideo's apartment, Nozomi tentatively learns to walk, dress herself and venture out into the neighborhood, where she mimics the speech and habits of others. Hideo is surprised when he discovers his "air doll" has come to life, but he soon adjusts to Nozomi's new form. But Nozomi begins learning about the pain and confusion that having a heart can bring when she gets a job at a video store and falls in love with one of her co-workers, Junichi (Arata). As she struggles with her feelings, she seeks out her creator -- Sonoda (Joe Odagiri), the designer who invented the model of doll she used to be. Kuki Ningyo (aka Air Doll) was an official selection at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where it was screened as part of the "Un Certain Regard" program.
doll, heart, humanity, toymaker, transformation