Starring: Megumi Hayashibara, Tôru Emori, Katsunosuke Hori
Director: Satoshi Kon
Running Time: 90 mins
Paprika is a Japanese film about a team of psychologists who have to work to save the world from destruction after a machine that allows people to enter the dreams of others is stolen, but constantly unsure about whether they’re really awake.
I still don’t really know what I just watched. From Satoshi Kon, who directed the mind-bendingly disturbing Perfect Blue, Paprika is a hugely complex and psychedelic thriller, but it’s an absolutely beautiful visual experience, and one that you won’t forget in any time.
As it centres around the ideas of criminals entering dreams and fake realities, Paprika does feel a lot like Inception. However, whilst Inception is a blockbuster thriller with a complex mystery that you’re left to solve, Paprika is a far more abstract look at the world of dreams.
Although the plot does follow a team of psychologists searching for the root of the theft of the DC Mini, used to enter people’s dreams, there are all sorts of loose ends deliberately left as ambiguous as possible to make for a more mind-bending watch.
The film does a fantastic job at throwing you into a psychedelic dreamworld right from the start by never giving you all the clues to what’s actually happening. So, unlike Inception, when you’re generally able to tell what’s real and what’s not, it’s feels almost impossible to judge whether the characters are acting in reality or in a dream for a large part of the movie, right from the word go.
However, as confusing and abstract so much of this movie is, it’s absolutely captivating from start to finish. At times, it works brilliantly as a difficult puzzle that you have to unpack along with the main characters, and at others, it’s just wonderful to sit back and be immersed in all the psychedelic and mind-bending madness.
Along with the complex plot, the visuals are what really make this such an engrossing watch. Again, like Inception, Paprika is brilliant at creating incredible landscapes and settings in the world of the dream, but with the added bonus of the vibrant animation, it’s absolutely dazzling to look at throughout. Even though I couldn’t quite get my head around so much of the plot, the stunning visuals meant that I was always delighted to keep watching and getting more wrapped up in this bizarre world.
Overall, I really liked Paprika. It may be insanely confusing at times, to the extent that the viewer is left behind by the plot, but its imagination, originality and exceptional intelligence all work to make it a thoroughly engrossing watch, only furthered by some incredibly beautiful animation throughout, and that’s why Paprika gets a 7.6 from me.