The director of this wonderful, peculiar film carries with him the auspicious pedigree of creating the Manga classic 'Ghost in The Shell', and like its animated counterpart, this live-action adventure explores layers of reality and perception against a world of sparse humanity, amazing battle sequences and deadpan grimness.
Set sometime in the near future, Ash, a heroine of an underground gaming world, lives a bare life between making a living playing in the Artificial Reality world of 'Avalon,' and subsisting in her small, one-room bed-sit she shares with her beloved Bassett Hound. Moving up through the ranks of game players, Ash is a high level player, surviving on minimal human contact, cigarettes and vodka. Life is simple until she begins to question events in her past and what lies ahead of her in the game, and then things start to unravel at an alarming speed under her very eyes.
What is real? Is there such a thing as free choice? How the heck can she live on apparently no food at all (possibly how she remains so skinny)?
Shot in a glorious sepia tint, with quite astonishing graphical work and a lead actress who looks just like every androgynous Manga hero/ine you've ever seen, this is one beautiful film that, like the 'Matrix' trilogy works hard to tackle some of the most fundamental philosophical questions of the human condition. But unlike the louder, brasher American flicks, there is something wonderfully unfinished and off-centre about 'Avalon' that leaves the responsibility of understanding firmly with the audience. Ash is a prickly, vulnerable yet also very tough cookie in a world so deeply layered that the deepest nature of life itself comes under grave examination in the course of a film that thrills and intrigues.
Filmed in Poland with a Japanese crew, and featuring a score that adds to the ethereal quality of the techno dream-scape, 'Avalon' is a thought-provoking, complex film that leaves more questions than it answers. Featuring a trademark of Eastern filmmaking; the use of long silences, there's more being said here than in words alone, submersing the film in a miasma of meaning.
A demanding evening's viewing for patrons who prefer to be challenged and not simply presented with facile images.
Rotten Tomatoes Score:
Malgorzata Foremniak, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Jerzy Gudejko, Dariusz Biskupski, Bartek Swiderski, Katarzyna Bargielowska, Alicja Sapryk
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