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Life isn't easy for a group of high school kids growing up absurd in Japan's pervasive pop/cyber culture. As they negotiate teen badlands- school bullies, parents from another planet, lurid snapshots of sex and death- these everyday rebels without a cause seek sanctuary, even salvation, through pop star savior Lily Chou-Chou, embracing her sad, dreamy songs and sharing their fears and secrets in Lilyholic chat rooms. Immersed in the speed of everyday troubles, their lives inevitably climax in a fatal collision between real and virtual identities, a final logging-off from innocence. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
"all about lily chou chou" begins with a series of manually keystroked chat-room-style statements that introduce facts and ideas, mostly related to mythical pop-star "lily chou chou." this sort of cinematic introduction sounds similar to many other computer-age-themed films, but amazingly the keystroke dialogue between several anonymous internet fanatics continues past the credits and runs through almost the entire movie. the nicely-scripted, brilliantly executed text acts as the backbone that beautifully holds together a story that is ultimately about many things, including the fragility of relationships and the personas we use based on them, fanatical envy and love contrasted against blind rage and hate, metamorphosis, and technology versus nature.
although executed in an arguably confusing manner, consisting of many non-chronological vignettes, the film ultimately succeeds in depicting a modern-day story involving the relationship between two early-adolescent japanese boys, their journey through life and school, their changing identities, and their fascination with and "connection" to the strangely popular musician, lily chou chou. visually, the filmmaking complements the ideas perfectly. the camera is often puerile and shaky when showing the boys' ventures and conversations. at one point, a vacation sequence is depicted solely through excited and dizzying amateur videography by the boys themselves, humorous close-ups of accompanying girls' bodies included. during the non-video portions of the film, the colors are beautifully rich, with verdant fields and saturated skies.
the abrupt, but fitting pattern between flowing, dreamlike camerawork, shaky camerawork, textual discourse, and the eerily sensual, fictitious lily chou chou tracks provide a momentum that is both refreshing in its originality but effectively discomforting. by the film's closing the style is not so much regretfully confusing as it is fittingly and fully dramatic, as well as both amazing and beautiful. the film is nothing short of art.
lastly, the film did well to keep free of preaching. with much of what goes on in the world today, filmmakers feel social commentary is an added bonus (or even a main goal) to depicting a narrative. this is not so much a problem until the viewer begins to feel manipulated in a propaganda-like fashion. this film is very much based in a realistic society with realistically harsh and shocking issues and occurrences. however, respectfully, this film does a fine job of depicting its characters and events in a manner that allows for the viewer's empathy without pointing direct fingers or offering direct solutions. incidentally, much of the films drama and marvel comes from this quality.
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