All About Lily Chou Chou

All About Lily Chou Chou

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

What do you do with a film of exquisite originality that goes on for two-and-a-half hours and makes no sense? To walk out in a state of aggrieved confusion would be a failure of the imagination. Writer/director Shunji Iwai is not intentionally oblique and this is not a pretentious arthouse tranquilliser. It is beautiful to look at, as well as anarchic and contemporary.

What it captures is that critical emotional void during teenage years when you don't know what you like or who you are. Kids could metamorphose into a hologram and never be missed, because there is nothing and no-one to hold onto. They call it alienation, but it feels like dying.

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Lily is a singer. Internet chat rooms splatter juice and goss about her. Lilyholics confer, using computer keyboards. The quality of the latest CD is discussed, as songs fuse on the soundtrack with someone playing Debussy. For kids, floating through high school in a daze of insecurity and music is a place of safety.

There is no definite storyline. Kids shoplift, bully the weaker ones, go on trips, talk about sex, talk about Lily. She's never seen, although her presence is the force that drives the engine of lives already lost in limbo.

Girls giggle and point. Boys scowl and hang their heads. Iwai's message is one of hope, with images of intrinsic beauty. Even if you haven't a clue what is going on, the journey is stimulating.

Lily was born at the exact moment of John Lennon's death. Is this significant?

Don't ask so many questions.

Reviewed on: 31 Oct 2002
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All About Lily Chou Chou packshot
A disaffected teen finds solace in music and fan chat rooms.
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Keith Hennessey Brown ***1/2

Director: Shunji Iwai

Writer: Shunji Iwai

Starring: Hayato Ichinara, Shugo Oshinari, Ayumi Ito, Yu Aoi, Takao Osawa, Miwako Ichikawa, Izumi Inamori

Year: 2001

Runtime: 146 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan

Festivals:

EIFF 2002

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