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Original Title:

Japan 2004

Comedy, Drama

Kei Kataoka

Aya Ueto
Ryunosuke Kamiki
Shichinosuke Nakamura
Rei Kikukawa
Hijiri Kojima
Yoshiko Tanaka

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Story: Asako (Aya Ueto) is a 17-year old schoolgirl, who is feeling like having an identity crisis. She has no aims in life and everyday life gives her a feeling of inner emptiness, which becomes stronger day by day. So, henceforth, she decides not to attend class anymore and spends her time at home, killing time in the most meaningless way. Asako's mother doesn't know that her daughter skips school and also isn't aware of the fact that Asako has completely emptied her room. When Asako gets rid of her furniture, she meets 10-year old boy, Aoki (Ryunosuke Kamiki), who asks her for her "broken" computer. Aoki gets it running again and even offers Asako a job. As a replacement for a hooker she is supposed to please men in a cybersex-chat. Since Asako's alternative is killing time at home, she accepts the job offer and starts to write messages at Aoki's home with his helping hand. Despite of her one-finger-typing technique she actually starts to like this new pastime. Thanks to Aoki's big knowledge she gets to learn a lot about sex, the meaning of life, and with time an extraordinary relationship between the two starts to evolve.

Review: "Install" is a bizarre, colorful-wacky comedy about the drama of life itself and oftentimes resembles a dream. Nevertheless, this movie based on Wataya Risa's novel of the same name, manages to realistically shed some light on the exceptional and sometimes alienating windings in life. The two main characters seem to be taken out of real life, especially because of their odd peculiarities, and moreover they make it very amusing for the viewer to accompany them on their search for knowledge and "enlightenment".

The story of "Install" is brought to us by Asako, who also operates as the narrator. She always tells us her thoughts and feelings, this way managing to weave a strong bond to the viewer. With her reflective and yet sometimes wacky nature Asako is quite a cutie. Nonetheless, you easily believe her that she doesn't get along with life and feels incredibly lonely in this world. Her inner emptiness and the meaninglessness of her actions may seem familiar to some of us. There surely is no one who doesn't know the feeling that there is no sense in living or rather no goal to achieve, when we somehow end up at a dead end on our jouney of life.
Aya Ueto gives it her best shot as Asako and proves that beside playing the cool, and coldblooded assassin in "Azumi" she can also take on other roles. Now, she actually can be a teenager and gets to display all facets of juvenile emotions in all of its wacky forms and colors.

Moreover, there is Ryunosuke Kamiki who is giving a great performance as little Aoki. His occasionally indifferent and pretentious articulation just conceals the rather playful core of a 10 year old boy. Nevertheless, his precociousness is played very convincingly, and inevitably we have to give his words special weight, because of the way he behaves. It's him who is actually educating Asako, but doing so he also learns a lot for himself. It's fascinating to see how this little boy makes the impression to be more mature than 17-year old Asako. The friendship that builds up between them is unusual and nothing to forget so soon. Without a doubt it's the two main actors who make this movie so worthwhile.

The world of "Install" looks artificial and fairy-tale-like. Adding to this fact are not only some very beautiful sets and camera angles, for example the inside of a clock tower, but also the cinematography in general. With cheerful and bright colors, a crisp picture and a repetitive, almost unnerving tootle-like jingle soundtrack the film drags us into a world, that couldn't be more different from reality. The protagonists sometimes behave somewhat odd, too, maneuvering themselves into the most disconcerting situations. Yet, the movie never feels "wrong", since it only tries to be a representation or symbolization of life as it really is. Furthermore, even the title is a metaphor. When you don't get along with life anymore and everything seems to go wrong, you just have to make free space on your hard disk and re-install the operating system!
There is a nice scene, when Asako vacates and clears her room, since by doing so she also metaphorically restarts her life or refocuses - formating her hard disk, so to speak! Aoki is the operating system, with whose help she restarts her life / the computer. Of course, this may be over-interpretation, but the fact is that "Install" tries to convey a message, which is to have the courage to make a new beginning and restart, when everything in life doesn't seem to make any sense anymore.

In a subplot Asako also lerns a lot about sex and the sexual pervertedness of some performing individuals. It's not only funny to see 10-year old Aoko teach Asako the facts of life, but his "enlightened" mind more than once is also the reason for some really good laughs. The lightheartedness with which the serious problems of life are approached while at the same time the stage for some good gags is set, is definitely one of the film's upsides. Even though the movie might have some lengths and storywise there also might not be happening that much on screen, the flick can be quite entertaining, because of its wackiness and almost comic-like nature.

"Install" is a quite, yet coulorful and life-affirming drama/comedy mix, that can score with its two great lead actors and a nice message. If one would have avoided some of the many lengths, then this one could have had what it takes to be a little gem. However, for movie-lovers, who are looking for a slightly "different" movie this one is definitely recommendable!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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