Seventh Code ★★★★½

Central to Kiyoshi Kurosawa's vision is the conflict in the minds of his melancholic and lonely characters between struggling through the tortures of day-to-day life and retreating permanently into solipsistic isolation. Seventh Code replaces Kiyoshi's usual landscapes of decaying Japanese industrial buildings for the vast green fields of Russia, bringing a "stranger-in-a-strange-land" element to the film which inspires both a sense of wild fantasy of adventure and a sense of isolation that is literal, fundamental, and absolute.

The very dramatic and funny twist that comes in the last bit of the film seems to me to be a point in which Akiko's absolute aimlessness reaches a vanishing point and breaks through the other side into total fantasy; watching Hsiao-Yen leave to pursue success in a concrete and responsible way leaves Akiko to act out a fantasy of power and drive. Her sad smile at the very end as she sees the car coming to kill her is a perfect Kiyoshi Kurosawa touch; the depressive temptation of doom and failure expressed through genre play, as joyful in this spy thriller as it is terrifying in his horror films.