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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
The one agreeable thing that can be said about Shunji Iwai is that he makes beautiful images. Lily Chou Chou is his most recent release (and let me state, since someone incorrectly wrote it is pronounced "Choo Choo" it is not, it is spoken "Shoo Shoo"), and one of his most coherent films. For some reason this movie seems to puzzle a lot of people... maybe it is the translation from English to Japanese (I watched the movie in Japanese dialog only, so I don't know if they killed it with subtitles or not), but the movie's plot is really not so complicated. If you know a little bit about Japanese life and culture, the emotions of youth, and devotion to an artist then you can watch this movie and understand it. Even for those who were confused by the plot, another one or two viewing should clear up any misunderstandings. Iwai does have some issues with complicating plot stories, or leaving out plot at all. As a writer he is great, but not perfect. As a director of film and photography he is mind blowing. The images that Iwai creates and displays to the audience are the most beautiful presented. Whether or not the story behind this movie shines to you, the images should be enough to blow your mind. Iwai uses re-occurring themes to present lovely contrasts. He also chose a beautiful selection of music to accompany his film, from Debussy to old Okinawan songs to Lily Chou Chou's own. If you pay attention to the gentle subtleties presented in this film, there is no way you can walk away with your life unchanged. I know this film has changed my life, and has become my main source of inspiration.
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