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  • Technology makes it possible to enter the subconscious mind and influence dreams. A young couple does just that after one of them attempts suicide. Things go awry when it becomes difficult for each of them to distinguish the real world from the realm of dreams, or actual memories from wishes or fears. They hesitate to influence each other out of the desire to know if they are truly loved or if they are merely manipulating the other or being manipulated themselves. There are so many possibilities. It is a fascinating theme, yet towards the end of the film the plot gets out of control. There are just too many loose ends, including the chemistry between the couple. Seen at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
  • 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).
  • ebossert21 January 2014
    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.