It takes a while for DOLLS to sink in. Not because of the complexity of the stories intertwined through the film but because of the sheer emotional impact virtually every scene carries with it. I won't go into details about the three stories but I can say that, above all else, DOLLS is a lesson in love and anguish and it is by far Kitano's most powerful work, even more so than Hana-bi. I'm baffled by the negative reviews I've seen of this film since it was first aired. I wonder if it might be a case of the viewer needing to understand the way Japanese often tend to act and feel when faced with difficult or unbearable situations and without that understanding you might question if people would ever really act the way they do in DOLLS. The answer is that often they really do. I've considered Kitano a master film maker for a long time now. The man has only ever made one film that can't be considered good (the embarrassingly poor Getting Any?) and I consider Hana-bi in particular to be one of the finest films ever made. But Dolls almost functions at another level. I don't know how often I will watch it because it genuinely is emotionally draining but this is simply a brilliant piece of film making. The cinematography is exquisite. The acting is fantastic, especially Miho Kanno who gives such a tragic, beautiful performance while hardly saying a world throughout the film. And above all, the emotional bond forged with the viewer is beyond any I think I've ever seen on film. Anyone who truly loves film should see Dolls. Actors should see Dolls if only to see how little you really need to give in order to portray real emotion. Directors should see Dolls and learn from a master. I genuinely believe Kitano will go down in history as a genius film maker. Dolls may well be his masterpiece.