The name of Takeshi Kitano usually promises plenty of sardonic, deftly handled action and violence. Not this time, alas, Dolls being a poised and, at times, stilted exercise in style.
It's comprised of three intertwined tales from the venerable Japanese bunraku tradition of puppet theatre, the main story seeing a jilted girl and her faithless lover wandering endlessly through gorgeous landscapes. They're joined at their waists by a plaited red cord (how's that for heavy symbolism?). It may look stunning, Kitano allowing himself a far wider palette of colours than usual, but the director himself hints at the problem when he admits that Dolls is essentially "a puppet play performed by human puppets". After all, who cares what puppets get up to?