The Stratosphere Girl (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Angela, an 18-year-old Belgian girl, craves adventure and doesn't want to study. Having become involved with a Japanese DJ, she makes her way to Tokyo, where she ends up working in a shadowy world of nightclubs that provide European "hostesses" for weary Japanese businessmen.

What does a hostess do, exactly? Well, it depends. The concept is companionship. They talk and sing some karaoke and ... well ... whatever. There are rules, but they are sometimes broken. If one girl gets greedy and agrees to go too far in order to increase her income, she will face strong penalties, but not from her club or the law, but from her fellow hostesses, who don't want to be peer-pressured into prostitution or stripping. The women like the market just the way it is. Young Angela is very pleased that she doesn't have to strip or have sex , but she nonetheless incurs the wrath of her peers by getting some big tips and getting called over to too many tables. This is quite uncomfortable because the women also live together, dormitory style.

While she is getting acclimated to this world, Angela stumbles into what she thinks is a murder mystery. One of the women who used to work at her club has disappeared. Angela comes to believe that her curiosity about the incident may cause her to become the next woman to disappear, and then she is kidnapped ...

Or maybe not.

You see, Angela is a cartoonist. Her life's ambition is to draw comic strips, and it seems that she is creating one about her experiences in Japan ...

... except that the film is simply ambiguous about the relationship between her drawings and reality. Perhaps we see her reality, and then we see her drawings based upon her life. Or perhaps her reality is mundane, and she draws stories which make everything seem dramatic, and we are only watching what she imagines.

Thus, in the end we witness a happy ending to the murder mystery and Angela's kidnapping. The only problem is that we don't know what has really happened. Perhaps Angela imagined the entire murder plot in the first place. Or perhaps there was really a plot, but she just imagined a happy ending. Or maybe she's still back in Belgium and the whole story is just her fantasy based upon her one encounter with the Japanese DJ. The film never really reveals what is real.

From a purely physical perspective, Chloe Winkel could not have been cast more perfectly. She was an 18-year-old Flemish girl with the face of an angel playing an 18-year-old Flemish girl named Angela. Unfortunately, she is not much of an actress. In fact I think she's actually a fashion model, and she has almost no grasp of English. If you plan to watch it, my suggestion is to do so with English sub-titles. The film is in English, at least theoretically, but Chloe's narration is just about incomprehensible.

It's a film with a consistent aesthetic and atmosphere. The Japanese nightlife, the comic strip, the mysterious music, and Angela's childish narration all add to a strange dream-like juxtaposition of the crude and the innocent. This film is odd, and arty, and you won't know what's really going on, but in its own way, it is quite effective. This kind of ambiguity can be very effectively mysterious and literary, or completely frustrating and annoying. Maybe both. Personally, I prefer not to get dicked around like that, but plenty of people enjoy that kind of subtlety and understatement, and this film is for them.



  • no important features
  • the transfer is anamorphically enhanced.



Chloe Winkel - breasts in a strange, bleached-out sex scene.

Peggy Jane de Schepper - breasts in dark "strip club lighting"

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major English-language reviews online.


The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C, completely competent arthouse fare, no real crossover appeal.

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