Movie Review – Pulse (2001)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse (2001), known in Japan as Kairo, is a slow-paced mystery heavy with melancholy that effectively builds tension in a stark, bleak atmosphere. After a young man commits suicide his friends see his ghostly image on the internet. Soon other suicides follow. The images themselves are not particularly creepy, but rather their enigmatic purpose is as an overwhelming feeling of loneliness spreads. It is this despair that permeates through the film, assisted by depictions of empty streets and a devastated Tokyo, and which stays with the viewer after it is over. The supernatural is used symbolically as a critique of the physically isolating nature of the internet.

At times, however, the film moves a bit too slowly. Also, the scenes focus so heavily on a few characters who are in fairly remote corners of the city that it is not immediately apparent until rather too abruptly that the city is nearly empty.

That being said, there are some fantastic pieces, including a particularly realistic and well-timed suicide. While the message of the movie and some of its reasoning are at times questionable, the mystery, if not the answer, are well worth the exploration.

Grade: C+