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Ben Austwick [Film Festival 05.01.09] movie review scifi action comedy romance

Year: 2008
Directors: Jae-young Kwak
Writers: Jae-young Kwak
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 8 out of 10

Lonely Jiro Kitamura is out celebrating his birthday alone when a pretty young girl approaches him and takes him on the night of his life through the streets of Tokyo before leaving as abruptly as she arrived. He can't forget her and mournfully hopes she'll return. Sure enough, on his birthday the following year she comes back and comes back for good. There's one problem though - the girl is a cyborg sent from the future, perfect in every way but unable to give Jiro the one thing he really wants from her – love.

With few other cast members Cyborg She hangs on the relationship between Jiro and the cyborg, and the chemistry between the two stars is the first step in what amounts to a charming and touching romantic comedy. Keisuke Koide is perhaps a little wet as hapless Jiro, but Haruka Ayase is fantastic as the cyborg, giving a versatile performance of energy and charm that pretty much steals the show. Cameos from Jiro's lecherous friend and a psychotic maths teacher provide some laugh-out-loud comic relief in a romantic comedy where the emphasis is firmly on the romance.

It's such a soppy affair that it may have some reaching for their sick bags, especially in the middle sections where a loved-up montage and a visit to Jiro's childhood home are accompanied by sentimental J-pop music. By this point though I was completely smitten by this heart-warming film and prepared to forgive it any excessive tugs on my heart strings. My only worry was whether it was going to devastate me with an unhappy ending or not, and the overcomplicated multiple endings certainly leave you hanging on the edge of your seat. When it comes the pay-off is a bit of tear jerker, so be prepared.

While there is enough here for the sci-fi fan – the reason the cyborg has been sent from the future provides an unexpectedly dark special effects scene more serious films have failed to deliver – Cyborg She is a romantic comedy and should be judged as such. The love story at its heart is touching and believable despite its preposterous premise, and nicely sidesteps the dull plot mechanics of your average rom-com. It's no doubt too saccharine-sweet for some, but if you let yourself go with the flow you'll find it hard not to shed a tear at the end.

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