mattmav45’s review published on Letterboxd:
Initially captivating, but unfortunately the initial magic steadily devolves throughout the run time.
No matter what your opinion of this film may be, one can simply not overstate the creativity and ambition on display here. It is a film that is well at ease with taking big risks, and sure as hell isn't shy about doing so. This in its own right makes this film worthy of respect, and recommended viewing for any cinema fan. Unfortunately, there is a thin line between taking an ambitious risk and succeeding at taking said ambitious risk, and I have to say my impression tends to side with more of the former.
The story is focuses on drug dealer Oscar who is shot and killed in a drug bust. Oscar's body transitions into a purgatory of sorts in which he is able to transgress through Tokyo and drop in on people who had a big impact in his life. Specifically, his sister is an essential character to the film and its story, and it is rather unfortunate that the handling of the story itself leaves much to be desired.
One can only imagine the kind of viewing this film would ultimately offer if the style and story had synergy. Such viewing would likely be just as enthralling on an intellectual level along with all the visual greatness. I couldn't get past the feeling that the style and story simply never meshed in a manner which allowed them to be viewed as a whole. The two simply felt very different, almost at ends with one another. This is a film that needed style and story to both be equally powerful, and such is not the case here.
The story is the ultimate downfall here. In many ways everything is tied to and dependent on said story, and it just feels way too pedestrian when mixed with the corresponding visual style. More importantly, the story was unable to invest me in the characters. The lack of investment here is key as the style tended to lose its glamour over time. There is a reason I refer to the visuals here as "style", as they are unable to achieve anything remotely related to substance. Clocking in at 160 minutes, the story and corresponding style get downright grating by the time the credits begin rolling.
I'm glad I watched it, in all honesty my memory of this film will be tied in with the flaws more than anything else. The very definition of an all style, no substance type of film to me.