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Master filmmaker Takeshi Kitano returns behind the camera for the first time since his indifferently received English-language effort Brother (2000) with this operatic tale of lost love. Dolls takes puppeteering as its overriding motif -- specifically, the kind practiced in Bunraku doll theater performances -- opening each section of his film with a story provided by the puppets and their masters, which relates thematically to the action provided by the live characters. Chief among those tales is the story of Matsumoto (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and Sawako (Miho Kanno), a young couple whose… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The cinematography is colorful and sweeping, the editing and storytelling simple and pure."
‑ G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
"A work both rigorously stylized and deeply personal."
‑ Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
"There's a clinical stillness to the way Kitano suggests the inevitability of loss, his always-arresting visuals and the disembodied, ambient soundtrack framing the characters at a quizzical distance."
‑ Luke Goodsell, Empire Magazine Australasia
"...this anthology of tragic tales is never dull and always a feast for the eyes."
‑ Luke Y. Thompson, New Times
"There aren't many movies more visually beautiful than Takeshi Kitano's odd but moving "Dolls.""
‑ Marcy Dermansky,
"It's all as passionate, refined, and insistently sad as Bunraku puppetry itself."
‑ Ty Burr, Boston Globe
"Devoted fans of Kitano will want to see Dolls. Others may be put off by the dirgelike pace (Kitano takes full credit for the editing) and a ghastly, mood-destroying pop-music number performed by Fukada."
‑ John Hartl, Seattle Times
"The stories have a fateful, lonely feel, like one of Wong Kar-wai's missed connections. Yet their tragic timelessness, and the lovely, aching pace at which they are told, bring them to a level of extraordinary beauty."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"Kitsch art."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Fascinating bits of behavior are scattered throughout these stories, but it cannot be said that the characters are fleshed out beyond their sentimental symbolism."
‑ Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News
"Dolls isn't a film for everybody, especially the impatient, but Kitano does succeed, I think, in drawing us into his tempo and his world, and slowing us down into the sadness of his characters."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"The movie's pace is appropriate to its mood, which is crisp, melancholy and gently cruel."
‑ Carina Chocano, Los Angeles Times
"A tripy, fascinating film mixing puppeteering with live action."
‑ Jason Gorber, Film Scouts
"pretentious and as hollow as the puppets"
‑ Jules Brenner,
"If occasional pretentious doodling like this is what it takes to keep Kitano's copious creative juices flowing, so be it. The Great Ones are allowed the occasional snoozer."
‑ Andrew Wright, The Stranger (Seattle, WA)
More reviews for Dolls on Rotten Tomatoes