Barren Illusion (Oinaru gen'ei)
Description: Maverick Japanese auteur Kiyoshi Kurosawa creates a surreal yet laconic love story set in the dystopic near future as Tokyo is gripped by mysterious and virulent pollen. The story focuses on Haru, a thoroughly bored music producer who justifiably fears that he might literally disappear into thin air; and Michi, an employee at an international mail carrier, who likes to decorate her apartment with stolen items and fantasizes about going to foreign lands. Listless and prone to violent fantasies -- his of gang war, hers of suicide -- the couple volunteers to be test subjects for a new experimental drug designed to combat the effects of the pollen, even though the side effects render them sterile. Within this vague and insecure world, the two try to maintain their love but find themselves drifting apart. Every half-thought attempt at salvaging their relationship only results in further alienation. Haru buys a dog but eventually he gives it away, putting further strain on the two. The couple attempts to flee their everyday existence and visit the sea, when they happen upon a washed-up skeleton. The emotional fallout finally results in the relationship's breaking up. Later, they meet again in a most surprising fashion. Kurosawa's film, told largely with long takes and a minimum of dialog, reads like an ironic reworking of alienated youth dramas. These characters are so internally inert and emotionally cut off that they seem to verge on the darkly comic; yet their love for one another keeps them from sliding into the abyss.~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide
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