Vital (review)

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Beautiful and disturbing, this Asian horror art film explores the intersection between madness and grief with a serene calm that belies the psychological turmoil under its silken surface. After a traumatic accident in which he loses his memory, a young man (Tadanobu Asano) becomes obsessed with a notebook full of sketches of a cadaver dissection, a fixation that extends to the corpse on the table before him in his med-school class. Past and present, imagined memories and actual ones become intertwined and impossible to unravel as he becomes convinced the dead girl whose body he is scrutinizing is an old lover… one who died in the same incident that took his memory. Writer-director Shinya Tsukamoto delves into the fragile underpinnings of a wounded psyche with both a delicate pathos and an odd scientific detachment, a unification of reason and feeling that brings a new class of poignancy and plausibility to the genre.

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