Paprika ★★★★

Bursting with untapped imagination, flowing with limitless creativity & presenting its story in an unabashedly freewheeling manner, Paprika (also known as Papurika) is part fantasy, part sci-fi & part mystery film with a bewildering plot that never makes any sense yet it manages to provide a cinematic experience that's dazzling, audacious & unique at the same time.

Set in the near future, Paprika presents a world in which technology exists that allows users to see other people's dreams & is used by psychologists to help their patients by entering their dreams. Chaos ensues when the device is stolen & used by the thief to distract people with their own dreams even when they are awake, thus forcing the titular character to find the one responsible before it's too late.

Co-written & directed by Satoshi Kon in what is his fourth & final film before his tragic death in 2010, Paprika is captivating from its opening moments and is a surreal work that blends the worlds of dream & reality unlike any other example before. The plot is highly character-driven though the territories it voyages in is bound to frustrate those who might be looking for something coherent or formulaic.

The animation is very detailed and exquisitely explores the wide, blank canvas of the dream world. Camerawork is fluid, dynamic & vibrant and its excellent use of colour palette adds a rich texture to the whole narrative. Editing provides a fierce pace to the story which is on the run at all times & cleverly intercuts between dreams, reality n movies. And last but not the least, its background score is truly one of a kind.

On an overall scale, Paprika is a world brought on screen by the people who might've been on acid throughout its production and is at its most rewarding when you're going with the flow. Paprika herself is quite a fascinating character & her arc is brilliantly portrayed. Also, it's the picture that inspired Christopher Nolan's Inception but does a much better job in blurring the lines between dream & reality without ever sacrificing the chance to explore the infinite possibilities of this realm.

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