Oh Lucy! REVIEW: Raindance opener is a bizarre yet humorous trip of self-discovery

Oh Lucy! REVIEW: Raindance opener is a bizarre yet humorous trip of self-discovery

0 comments 📅20 September 2017, 13:44

When bored office worker Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima) goes to meet her niece, Mika (Shiori Kutsuna), in a kitsch café after work she doesn’t quite realise what she’s got herself into. Maki, who’s erratic at the best of times, has paid for a year’s worth of English lessons up front but because she’s desperate for quick cash she appeals to her aunt to try it out in exchange for the tuition fees. But this isn’t your average language class, which Setsuko quickly finds out when she’s shown into a ‘classroom’ in a love hotel and given the name Lucy.

Her teacher, John (Josh Hartnett), is a hugger and he’s fond of teaching his two students (the other is called Tom) to speak American English through roleplays and conversations rather than using a textbook. Setsuko/Lucy is caught off guard by her new alter-ego and this level of intimacy, but after a while she finds that she actually quite likes being Lucy – it’s the one thing that brings her joy in an otherwise dreary existence. It’s a shame things don’t last, then, as John suddenly cancels his lessons and decides to go back to America, with Maki in tow.

After realising that it’s not the classes but John that she likes, Setsuko/Lucy decides to travel all the way to LA with her sister to find the runaway lovebirds. What follows is a bizarre yet humorous trip of self-discovery, family and pain. Atsuko Hirayanagi has crafted an interesting if eccentric tale about her unhappy protagonist, and this story of a character above a certain age is a welcome change to the norm. Setsuko is a fascinating character; her unpredictability makes her a fun and relatable person – even if she doesn’t make the best life choices.

Terajima does an excellent job of bringing Setsuko/Lucy to life, and seeing her portrayal of a woman struggling with her identity and place in the world is – ironically – a joy. She works well with Hartnett, and even though his character development and their dynamic leave a lot to be desired, Terajima still manages to stand out. What is interesting is that when the film changes its setting from Japan to America, the narrative still flows well. Setsuko/Lucy’s story works in both environments and, while the script does feel a bit sporadic at points, it is a nice surprise to see it progress naturally.

Oh Lucy! is an absorbing film about a woman desperately in love, and its strong lead character and unpredictable story make for an amusing adventure. Parts of the narrative are a tad confusing and certain performances don’t work as well as others, but despite this Hirayanagi’s story stands out for its fresh take on the romantic dramedy.

Release: 20 September 2017
From: NHK
Certificate: TBC
Director: Atsuko Hirayanagi
Starring: Shinobu Terajima, Josh Hartnett, Shiori Kutsuna, Kaho Minami, Koji Yakusho.

Oh Lucy! opens the 25th Raindance Film Festival today and will be screened again on 27 September 2017, tickets for the event can be found here.


No Comments

No Comments Yet!

You can be first one to write a comment

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.