Recent movies have seen writer/director/actor Beat Takeshi Kitano move away from his trademark stylised violence, and Dolls is as far removed from Violent Cop as you could go.
Intertwining three stories of love, loss and responsibility - - a pair of young lovers turned beggars, an aging yakuza pining for the woman he once abandoned, and a disfigured pop star about to meet her biggest fan - - Dolls is a badly written love letter to the kind of filmmaking that Kitano's customary mix of bullets, brains and beauty usually rips to shreds.
Coming in at just under two hours, but with such a torturously slow pace that it feels twice as long, Dolls pays obvious homage to Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa and other Japanese greats. There are occasional flashes of brilliance, some gorgeous photography and a welcome vein of black humour, but that's not enough to distract you from the fact that this is a disappointing, shallow film by a sometime master. Give us Sonatine 2, any day...
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