Kotoko ★★★★★

The opening 15 minutes are the purest, most horrifying audio/visual representation of what anxiety feels like I've ever come across, so affecting that I had to step away from the film for over an hour before I felt ready to return. Tsukamoto and Cocco put this character through absolute hell, but there's never any question that they're approaching her with empathy and understanding, and they end up leaving her with a kind of sad peace that feels earned, in no way hammy or crassly sentimental.

Cocco's performance is perfect, my words will not do justice to her work, so I will leave it at that.

Throughout I was constantly reminded of Dancer in the Dark, a movie I find shallow, pointless, and ugly, serving up despair for the sake of despair. Kotoko approaches similar themes but digs deeper into the ugliness and finds beauty. Tsukamoto may be cynical, but I don't think he's a nihilist like Von Trier, his work is too complicated and beautiful for empty despair.