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Friday, June 8, 2018

OH LUCY! -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

Funny, tragic, quirky (in a good way, not a cutesy way), and endlessly unpredictable, OH LUCY! (Film Movement, 2017) is one of those movies I approached with guarded skepticism until it gradually became one of the best things I've seen in years.

Shinobu Terajima is Setsuko, a detached, joyless office drone who lives in a tiny storage locker of an apartment in Japan and leads a life of quietly dreary despair.  As the film opens, she witnesses a suicide at the train station one morning and barely reacts except to look vaguely envious.

When her flakey niece Mika talks her into taking an English class, she meets the eccentric young American teacher John (Josh Hartnett), who gives her a new persona as blonde-wigged "Lucy" and teaches her to talk and act more like an American.

As Lucy, Setsuko slowly emerges from her shell and falls in love with John. Unfortunately, John's in love with Mika and follows her when she runs off to Los Angeles. 

The smitten Setsuko follows John, and Mika's mother Ayako (Kaho Minami), who is Setsuko's sister, goes with her in search of Mika. And when they all end up in southern California together, the plot is off to the races.

OH LUCY! is wonderfully funny in its own way, but I wouldn't call it a "comedy" because it's also so deeply sad and at times shockingly tragic.  While the sisters are amusingly at odds with each other, there's more than just sibling rivalry going on, especially when we discover just how profound their rift really is. 

John is also boyishly funny, a likable guy who not only gets left by his girlfriend but opens the door to find "Lucy" and her frantic sister suddenly moving in with him. 

Much of the film's sharp but subtle humor arises from him reluctantly presiding over their fish-out-of-water experiences in sunny California, but Setsuko's clumsy romantic advances will trigger an equal amount of harsh reality-style drama which keeps reminding us that real life isn't a cute comedy.

All of this is consistently engaging, while some of the plot turns are positively shocking.  Even a comfortingly predictable twist at the end came as a surprise because it involves a character I'd forgotten about. 

Performances are perfect all around. I couldn't take my eyes off Shinobu Terajima as "Lucy", while Josh Hartnett is so good here that he erases my bad memories of him in PEARL HARBOR.  First-time feature director Atsuko Hirayanagi handles it all with confidence and style.

A wonderfully and tastefully emotional ending brings OH LUCY! full circle, not exactly tying things up in a tidy bundle but leaving us with the hope that it could happen.  It's one of those movies that I feel better for having seen. 

Japan and United States
1:85.1 widescreen
5.1 surround/2.0 stereo
English & Japanese with English subtitles
95 min
Bonus: Interview with director Atsuko Hirayanagi
Deleted scenes

Official site


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