Train Man

Runs at Grand Illusion, Fri., Nov. 10–Thurs., Nov. 16. Not rated. 101 minutes.

A nation of lonely hearts connected only by e-mail, IM, and cell phone texting? It's not such a foreign dilemma in our age of Friendster and MySpace.com, though Train Man makes it seem quintessentially Japanese. Supposedly based on a actual cybercourtship, this story of a geek who falls for a chic office girl on the subway was first adapted as a best-selling novel. The cultural resonance is obvious, as the shy dork (Takayuki Yamada) enlists his online buddies to help with his makeover and wooing of the mystery girl (Miki Nakatani of the Ringu movies). It's a SimCity romance by proxy, and director Masanori Murakami has great fun with multiple screens and all manner of kanji-character messages of support—"You've got all of us by your side!"—which, plus the subtitles, tile the movie screen like so many pop-up ads on your PC monitor. This chorus of shut-ins (both emotional and literal) is the most comic and enjoyable aspect of Train Man's sentimental journey, though the last stop is unexpected. Any movie in which the hero can win the girl with tips about The Matrix and computer-shopping advice should offer hope to the IS crowd. And here's a helpful dating tip: Program all your conversational cues into your PalmPilot for quick reference during that special romantic dinner. BRIAN MILLER

 
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