Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, starring Tadanobu Asano, Nami Tsukamoto, Kiki, Kazuyoshi Kushida, Lily, Hana Kino and Masato Tsujioka.

Seriously injured in a car crash in which his girlfriend Ryoko (Tsukamoto) is killed, Hiroshi (Asano) awakes with amnesia. With much of his personality affected, the one thing which has remained is his interest in medicine: previously a dropout, Hiroshi is now keen to continue his education and follow his father into the profession. Where once Hiroshi couldn't apply himself, he now finds his study stamina is colossal and he shares top place in his class with Ikumi (Kiki), a troubled young woman who is drawn towards him. But Hiroshi's past and present are about to collide when he and Ikumi are paired together to study a cadaver – Ryoko's.

The latest film from 'Tetsuo' director Shinya Tsukamoto, 'Vital's shocks turn out to be of the emotional, not visceral variety. Resisting the temptation to turn his film into a ghost story, Tsukamoto instead focuses on the human drama at the story's core: a young man trying to move on with his life after tragedy and finding a way back in to his memories.

What 'Vital' lacks in dialogue it makes up for with its distinctive visual style. Here the icy blues and mortuary yellows of Hiroshi's present are contrasted sharply with the bright sunlight and lush forest green of the encounters he has with Ryoko inside his head. And while the storyline is offbeat, by avoiding making the plot too convoluted, Tsukamoto ensures his film is more affecting.

A slow-moving but always intriguing film, 'Vital' is one of the more unusual offerings from the East. It dips in and out of genres but the one it shouldn't be filed under is horror - hope would be far more suitable.

Harry Guerin