“Festival veteran Shinya Tsukamoto has earned a devoted cult following for his unnerving explorations of the intersection between body and technology, as seen in his Tetsuo films and works like Tokyo Fist and Nightmare Detective. Now the Japanese genre master delves beyond the flesh and into the mind, in this case that of a deeply disturbed young woman.
Kotoko opens on a beautiful young girl dancing by the ocean with wild abandon. A blood-curdling scream breaks this idyllic scene as the girl disappears from sight.
Kotoko (Cocco) holds a fragile grip on reality. A young mother, she fiercely protects her son from what she imagines are constant predatory threats. Even when her infant boy is in her arms, Kotoko envisions death around every corner. As fantasies overwhelm her, she is forced to give up her son and face her manic highs and terrifying bouts of paralysis alone. She cuts herself, hoping to feel her body and jump-start its instinct for survival. The sudden appearance of Tanaka (Tsukamoto), a novelist who has followed Kotoko’s deterioration from a distance, offers momentary relief before her instability overwhelms her.
Using voice-over narration and whirling camera work, the film’s style mirrors the trajectory of Kotoko’s own increasingly fractured perception, which is plagued by confounding apparitions, scenes of horror and surreal nightmares. Tsukamoto’s subjective approach is gripping and relentless. Small spaces and claustrophobic compositions leave no room to escape. As Tanaka, Tsukamoto gives a subtle and at times gutting performance. The film’s star, Cocco, is an alluring Japanese singer in real life — the perfect fit for the part of Kotoko, for whom singing is a release from mental anguish. With her haunting melodies and visceral understanding of madness, Cocco fully inhabits this tortured role.
In this tightly crafted, sharply edited and visually startling film, Tsukamoto creates a harrowing vision of a world where nothing you see can be trusted.”
You can view the trailer down below!