DVD Riaru: Kanzen naru kubinagaryû no hi

DVD Riaru: Kanzen naru kubinagaryû no hi
DVD Riaru: Kanzen naru kubinagaryû no hi
Run time: 127 min
Rating: 5.7
Genres: Drama | Sci-Fi
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Writers: Rokurô Inui, Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Stars: Takeru Satô, Haruka Ayase, Jô Odagiri
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… See full synopsis »
Plot Keywords: waking up from a coma, coma patient, pen, confronting the past, mysterious past
Country: Japan
Release Date: 1 June 2013 (Japan)


  1. Recalling elements of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Vanishing Waves, fantastical and haunting mystery romance Real falls just shy of greatness. Some of the special effects are a tad underdeveloped and the story ultimately errs on the side of sweetness, but more often than not, it's a subtly chilling, light science fiction character piece dealing with the nature of guilt, love and memory, and how each can twist the others into elaborate knots.

    The unravelling of these mnemonic entanglements is approached in much the same manner as the aforementioned films and, yes, even The Cell: one party enters the other's subconscious. In this case, it's a young man taking part in a cutting edge medical procedure that allows him to enter the mind of his comatose lover, Atsumi Kazu (Haruka Ayase), a successful Manga artist.

    Right away, this is ostensibly a salvage mission; Koichi's entire motivation is to see if he can help her wake up. Unlike similar dream-diving efforts, they make contact easily and she's unperturbed by the knowledge that all this is taking place inside her unconscious mind. Insightfully commenting on the obsessive work ethic widely held in Japan, Atsumi can only seem to remember herself when she's feverishly putting pencil to paper. During every early "sensing," as the doctors label the procedure, she's busy logging intangible pages of art for the popular Manga series that's been on hold since she was hospitalized.

    Hallucinations begin to plague Koichi between sessions, as one of the side effects of linking brain waves. While he searches for an old drawing of a dinosaur to kick-start his wife's memory, he begins seeing flesh and blood versions of the corpses in Atsumi's gory drawings, along with glimpses of a waterlogged little boy. The scene becomes increasingly fraught with paranoia and unease as the lines of reality blur more and more drastically.

    Kurosawa does a fantastic job creating a sense of the perpetually off-kilter, subtly shifting the framing of shots between cuts and painstakingly applying eerie sound effects to ratchet up the tension and feeling that something is very wrong at the edges of perception.

    Packing unexpected twists, cinematography that captures great beauty and creates serious willies with equal aplomb, as well as a score that commensurately blends the lovely with the creepy, Real will reward those who stick with it through the occasional stumble.

  2. I saw this film at the Rotterdam film festival 2014 (IFFR). Though not advertised as a horror movie, some of the scenes are creepy, albeit in the positive sense. There are many parts where we do not exactly know what is real and what is not, and where super-natural and other uncommon things happen in broad daylight. Rest assured, it is certainly no "shock" horror movie. It is a bit Sci-Fi-ish, due to the "sensing" technique that the hospital uses to make contact with people in a long-time coma. What we see happening during such sensing sessions, as the doctor explains, is visualised in the form of dreams. That explains that we see unreal things happening, yet able to frighten us or make otherwise a heavy impression, precisely as can happen when we are dreaming ourselves.

    Those dreams are a vehicle to relive events from years ago and to revisit places nearly lost from memory. We witness these from very nearby, holding our attention all the time. To avoid spoilers I can only say that things are not what they seem from the outset, and that the healing process does not progress as ideally as assumed upfront. Several sessions are needed, until a moment that one starts thinking that no resolution will come. It also takes some time to get a grip on the plesiosaur (a prehistorical marine reptile), that seemed to be important for the healing process. It apparently involves much more than simply recovering a lost drawing from 15 years ago, as we (and the main characters) are led to believe in the beginning.

    In the final scenes we see that "retribution" is the key word, to explain the deeper causes of the seemingly endless coma situation. This finale was a bit over the top, in my opinion. It may have its useful function to satisfy those who want a bit of romance. It felt as if the movie was too long for its contents, but that feeling is unjustified given the 88 minutes running time. I think that this sort of romance is just not for me, hence my feeling that the finale was a bit too much. Nevertheless, I scored the maximum 5 for the audience award when leaving the theater, for a considerable part in order to honor the wonderful musical score that supported many scenes in a useful way without overstaying its welcome. My score did not help, however, as this film ranked a lowly 135th place (out of 200).

  3. I'm a big, big fan of Kiyoshi Kurosawa. He is currently the only director to have earned three 10/10 ratings from me. I loved "Cure" (1997), "Pulse" (2001), and "Charisma" (1999). His recent transition away from horror has also been quite successful, with quality works such as "Tokyo Sonata" (2008) and "Penance" (2012).

    The premise of "Real" (2013) is outstanding. New technology allows a man to venture into the mind of his comatose wife. This stuff is right in Kiyoshi's wheelhouse. This director has a knack for taking an overarching philosophical or psychological theme and exploring it in interesting ways. However, I had trepidations after viewing the trailer, which seemed a bit cheesy and hokey.

    It turns out that I was right to be worried. This film is dramatically limp, with a very messy and unfocused script that makes it very difficult to have a vested interest in the characters. I literally could not have cared less about the ending to this film. The dialogue is seemingly worthless. At its best it acts merely as dull exposition and at its worst it's just boring. Performances are fine, but the star-studded cast is wasted on this uninspired screenplay. Kiyoshi does contribute some very nice framing of camera shots, which helps to alleviate some of the suffering. I hope he rebounds for his next feature.

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