Get real. Ash faces up to her fears ... and then some.
dir Mamoru Oshii
scr Kazunori Ito
with Malagorzata Foremniak, Bartek Swiderski, Dariusz Biskupski, Jerzy Gudejko, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Katarzyna Bargielowska, Alicja Sapryk, Zuzanna Kasz, Michal Breitenwald, Adam Szyszkowski, Krszysztof Szczerbinski, Marek Stawinski
release UK 8.Nov.02
Tackling the escape-from-reality theme with real artistry and visual verve, this Japanese-Polish hybrid is a real stunner. It's the near future in Eastern Europe, where people play virtual-reality games as both an escape from life and for a living. In the game Avalon, Ash (Foremniak) is a star fighter who battles on her own, without the help of a "party" like most players. But she has a past, and she finds out that one of her old colleagues (Gudejko) is lost in a secret upper level of the game called Class Real, where there's no reset button. So with the help of a friend (Swiderski) and a mysterious higher-class player (Biskupski), she determines to get in there to rescue him.
The film looks absolutely amazing--all sepia toned and misty--eXistenZ meets The Matrix by way of Brazil in its trashy future look, with mind-bending special effects that combine video game graphics with real battle imagery. Then we get to Class Real and we're knocked back into our seats with bright, sundrenched colour. But it's not all style over substance; Avalon the game is like a drug for these characters, always looking for an increasingly risky high and a better distraction from reality, whatever that may be. This comes through brilliantly due to solid performances and the otherworldly setting. It's also refreshingly free of pushy moralising (that's what American remakes are for!), quietly making its point while keeping us interested in the characters and their choices and using the impressive effects to augment (not overpower) the story.
|"I saw the film in Poland. It had bad reviews but I still went to the cinema because of a headache! And then I was totally caught by it. In terms of idea, it is much more intelligent and consistent than The Matrix. Not that much so when it comes to special effects unfortunately. It won't do well at the box office but it will remain my favourite film like, say, Terry Giliam's Brazil." --Neo, net 12.Apr.02