If you’ve seen and enjoyed Inception, you’ll probably like the film that inspired it – Paprika, though obviously they both tackle themes and ideas that have been well-explored in the past.
I’ve enjoyed the other films directed by the late Satoshi Kon and this psychological thriller was no exception. As an adaption of the 1993 novel (that I did read but only after the film), I found the movie to be a much more consistent work from top to bottom.
In the near future, a revolutionary new psychotherapy treatment called dream therapy has been invented. A device called the “DC Mini” allows the user to view people’s dreams. The head of the team working on this treatment, Doctor Atsuko Chiba, begins using the machine illegally to help psychiatric patients outside the research facility, using her alter-ego “Paprika”, a sentient persona that she assumes in the dream world.
Again, as you’ll probably read from me often on this little blog, I like intertexual films and this is another great example of it, where allusions to a range of classic Hollywood cinema occur in the character’s dreams (and there’s a Monkey reference too!) but also to the art of cinema and film-making itself.
There’s more to the film than its allusions of course, from the themes of obsession, love, memory and the fear of technology – it’s also equal parts creepy and touching (at times) though expect a certain amount of anime tropes to appear, even as more than a few are subverted – especially with the supporting cast.
When compared to Perfect Blue (often regarded as Kon’s masterpiece) it’s not as relentlessly dark as there are light moments during the film but the R rating (M if you’re in Australia) is still fitting I feel.