Koichi (Sato) and Atsumi (Ayase) are childhood friends who have become lovers. Despite this closeness when Atsumi attempts suicide Koichi is at a loss to understand the circumstances that drove her to do such a thing. Now she is in a coma and Koichi needs to find out the reason. Since Koichi is a neurosurgeon he has access to the latest studies and so he takes part in a medical procedure that will allow him to enter Atsumi’s subconscious. Through ‘sensing’, a type of neurosurgical procedure allowing contact with the intentional aspect of a comatose patient’s mind, Koichi tries to discover why Atsumi tried to kill herself, and to bring her back to consciousness. When he enters her mind she asks him to find a picture which she drew as a child. It is the key to a suppressed memory connected to a childhood trauma, an incident buried in their past which will bring their minds together and allow him to get close to truly knowing his love.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa (who is not related to Akira) has to have an impressive filmography. And its often the boundary between cinema and fantastic horror movies were different grazing impressively over again. In his most recent, now in competition at Locarno ongoing effort, however, I could not help the disappointment. The story takes at least two surprising twists that unfortunately are not surprising then again though. Finally, we know the mechanisms and the interplay of virtual identities. This is harmless in comparison to the rather lame and not very imaginative production design of the film. There’s a peculiar appeal to Real’s absolute rejection of rationality in its storytelling that makes it almost unfathomably enjoyable despite its undoubted daftness. We agree. To pay excess tribute to Real’s achievements—and they do exist—would be to undersell the sad reality. Real by Kiyoshi Kurosawa is probably more exciting in the retelling than in the cinema. And the head of the listener caused thereby almost certainly more spectacular scenes than it has to offer the film. For manga fans and girlfriends of Japanese pop culture, but the film should still provide enough stimuli.
With a Big Twist at the 75-minute mark, the introduction of some visual effects thereon, and a finale which features some excellent CGI but is more suited to a kid’s movie with its sense of wonderment. It’s an honest attempt by Kurosawa to try something different but, like his last theatrical feature, Tokyo Sonata, is a very mixed bag. The script simply has no strong dramatic drivers. There’s much talk about Atsumi wanting Koichi to find a drawing of a plesiosaur she did at primary school, and later there’s some amateur detective work about a strange boy called Morio. But it’s all exceptionally wishy-washy, with no real tension or sense of mystery, and the film signally fails to make dramatic capital (or make much sense) from the Big Twist prior to the final act.
Virtual contact through the clinical short circuit of consciousness between two people. There, that leads to an intense, ultimately dangerous erotic obsession with the subject of the beautiful woman in a coma. Koichi takes his comatose girlfriend by a highly modern clinical technique – called Sensing – contact us. Koichi and Atsumi meet in a virtual version of their own home and try to figure out why they wanted to kill the manga artist. What a bizarre premise, and the story is a mess, in short. Sad, because the director has made some gems, but quite honestly, just skip this film. It’s a tragedy in the form of film; a waste of artistic expression.