Pulse (2001)

The Tokyo in Pulse is empty and eerie. People are lonely and disconnected from each other. The characters are all young and, in one way or another, alone.

We observe a man, Taguchi, in his home, through a low resolution camera of some kind, and we wonder who is watching him, apart from us. One of his work colleagues, Michi, comes to pick up a computer disk, and he hangs himself in front of her. Meanwhile, at the university, Ryosuke, a charming economics student, tries to install the internet on his PC. Something goes wrong, and he finds himself looking at someone sitting in a room through a camera, and they seem to be looking back at him.

There are cables, wires, hoses and tubes everywhere in Pulse — in the dead Taguchi’s apartment, in the classroom where the wonderful Harue offers to help Ryosuke with his Internet problem, and in the rooftop glasshouse where Michi works — but they are not connected. Screens are a perpetual threat. It’s all depressingly prescient.

Lots of unsettling things happen in the background of shots. Some of the best shocks come in deceptively simple ways. There’s a lot to think about, but it’s left to the viewer to interpret, and Kurosawa takes the story to its absolute limits. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to watch this. It’s a masterpiece.

Letterboxd: Pulse (2001), dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

Wikipedia: Pulse