Theatrical Review: Paprika

Paprika is the story of a device called the DC Mini. What the DC Mini does is allow someone to walk through another person’s dream and it’s use is for deep psychotherapy. At the start of the film, we’re given a glimpse into the dreams of a police detective, Konokawa and how he’s suffering from a trauma caused by a murder he can’t solve. This therapy is being directed by a young woman named Paprika who gives Konokawa much comfort. As we shift to the center where the DC Mini is used, we’re introduced to more characters: Chiba, the doctor in charge of the use of the DC Mini, Shima, her direct superior and Takita, the largely overweight and nerdish inventor of the DC Mini, and we also discover that a DC Mini has been stolen, and with it’s theft and unauthorized use, it’s starting to affect those that come into contact with it, and this builds to the point of the dreamworld starting to bleed over into the real world.

Paprika is an epic Japanese anime from director Satoshi Kon who’s best known for his previous work Tokyo Godfathers and it’s quite the thought-provoking film, which after seeing something like Transformers seems like just the thing that I was in the mood for. What this first brought to mind for me anyway was an American film called Dreamscape that starred Dennis Quaid. Paprika is Dreamscape taken to a degree that it probably never could’ve been taken to if made either as live action or as an American movie. It’s a serious story that really does delve into the psyche of it’s characters, primarily Chiba, Konokawa and Takita in ways that seem, at least to me, very right on how dreams work.

The animation is wonderful and there’s a lot of great imagery at work here. The style of the film sort of reminds me of a cross of what you’d get if you took American comic artist Jim Starlin and had his work interpreted as Japanese anime. But being anime, don’t exactly expect it to have the same vibrancy that you might get from American animation, it works on it’s own level and that level basically treats this just the same as a live action film might be treated, which what I mean by that is that human characters here are very human in expression and action and not at all over-the-top in portrayal.

There’s a lot to chew on here as far as it’s story goes taking some twists and turns that absolutely demands your full attention- i.e. this ain’t exactly the sort of movie that you watch and turn your brain off to. Yes, there’s plenty of twists and there’s certainly a few things that directly owe to Japanese culture, but if you’re paying close attention, you won’t have any trouble following this whatsoever.

Paprika is an absolutely wonderful film and if you’re a fan of anime, you already no doubt know about the film. Most who want to see this will probably have to wait for a domestic DVD release, but if so it’s worth the wait. We were fortunate and it opened here at St. Louis’ premiere art house theatre, the Tivoli and we got to see it in the theatre’s main auditorium on it’s biggest screen, and it was certainly a wonderful experience. Very much recommended.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

17. July 2007 by Darren Goodhart
Categories: Text Reviews, Theatrical Review | Leave a comment

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