PAPRIKA (Satoshi Kon). 88 minutes. Opens Friday (June 15). Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
In Paprika, somebody steals the headset that lets therapists enter patients' dreams. Dreams start to mix together and infect waking reality. Identities start to shift and merge for phantom therapist Paprika, the police detective she's treating and everybody else.
Dreams make sense, and animation offers reality-shifting potential that live-action directors can only dream about.
Director Satoshi Kon takes full advantage of all this to unleash a flood of disorienting sequences. Some are viscerally disturbing, while some start as lightly comic, only to turn sinister as the story progresses. Throughout, the dream figments make some profoundly silly utterances.
Note that the film is never cheesy, and though your left brain might groan at some of the visuals, your right will be basking happily.
Things do get quite confusing, but no more than intended. Kon makes good use of developing visual motifs, especially the blue butterflies, to keep the action on track and coherent.
Beneath the whoopee, the story is basically simple, but Kon dispenses with anime's usual visual and thematic clichés to present adult characters exploring diverse themes involving our relationship to the movies, the colonization of imagination, power and responsibility.