Paprika (Japan 2006)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 5/8/12
Director: Satoshi Kon
Cast: Megumi Hayashibara

A revolutionary new device is created which allows people to enter other people's dreams. It's primarily used for psychotherapy, but when the device is stolen by a dream terrorist, all hell starts breaking loose. A group of scientists team up with a dream persona named Paprika to track down the thief before the fabric of reality is destroyed.

The animation is superb and the mind-bending story is full of bizarre twists that question reality and challenge the moral responsibilities of the scientific community. It also unexpectedly turns into a love story at the end, which totally caught me off guard. The dream sequences are interesting and full of strange and frightening imagery, but I actually found myself more interested in what was going on in the real world. The characters are wonderfully realized and the dialog is intelligent and mature. It's also a decidedly adult film in its treatment of society, sexuality, and violence. While Paprika is presented as "every man's dream woman", I actually found her to be annoying and unattractive. I was much more intrigued and attracted to her real world counterpart, the cold and calculating Dr. Atsuko Chiba. I wonder what that says about me? Things get overly surreal towards the end when the dream world starts spilling into the real world, which was very reminiscent of "Lum The Forever" (1986) in its all-out insanity. Overall, I found it to be a thought provoking film that requires a sharp and open mind to enjoy.