REAL: A PERFECT DAY FOR PLESIOSAUR
(Riaru: Kanzen Naru Kubinagaryu no Hi)
While almost all of Kiyoshi Kurosawas other films fall into the horror genre, Real was his first venture into science-fiction. While both science-fiction and horror nominally fall under the same fantastic label, they present fundamental differences for Kurosawa. For one, his horror films are opaque and surrealist in nature they are often a bunch of plotting staircases that lead nowhere and leave you baffled as to meanings. By contrast, science-fiction as a genre works with an implied explainability where everything is given a rational answer as opposed to being left unanswered. This, in seeming to gut the narrative framework that Kurosawa prefers, automatically makes for a less interesting film.
Real is a variant on the dreamscape film, which usually features a therapist or individual who has the ability to enter into another persons dreams. This was first put down in Dreamscape (1984) and there have been numerous variants on the basic idea since with the likes of The Cell (2000) and with other Japanese directors seeming fascinated with the idea in Shinya Tsukamotos Nightmare Detective (2006) and the anime Paprika (2006). Of course, the film that almost certainly acted as influence with Real was the massive success of Christopher Nolans Inception (2010). The premise of someone entering into the dreams of a person in a coma in an effort to bring them back to consciousness is very similar to the Lithuanian Vanishing Waves (2012) that came out just before Real did.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa creates one or two interesting sequences I liked one scene where Haruka Ayase draws a picture of a handgun and is then able to pick it up and shoot the two editors, while back in the real world Takeru Sato finds that he is in the editorial office holding a gun and shoots the same two people only for this and the gun to be an illusion that ends with everyone turning and staring at him as he stands pointing his finger. There is the occasional ominousness as Takeru Sato finds the city outside the apartment dissolving into a mist or disintegrating. By and large though, Real is not terribly interesting. Kurosawas directorial style seems flat there is a dinosaur that appears near the end but the digital effects are nothing special. What also fails to work is the big twist reversal that comes in mid-film as to who is really in the coma it makes our investment in the idea at the outset something that ends up being contrived and false.