You can’t fault the daring of the premise: Hideo (Itao), a waiter by trade, enjoys a rewarding relationship at home with Nozomi, a blow-up doll with whom he eats at the dinner table and to whom he makes love at night. Things liven up when Nozomi secretly comes to life, played by Bae Du-na, and starts to live a parallel existence, taking a job in a video shop, exploring the city and learning how to live in the real world. Full marks to Kore-eda for sidestepping sleaze and gimmickry in favour of a goodlooking, tender modern fairytale as he tries his best to share with us Nozomi’s wonder at seeing the world with fresh eyes. But the sense of whimsy only grows with time as you realise that this is a very slim story and its pleasures are only skin deep.
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