La La La At Rock Bottom


Reviewed by: Luke Shaw

La La La at Rock Bottom
"Subaru gives a brilliant performance - including some excellent vocal takes - as an amnesiac whose only link to the world is his singing."

Summing up personal thoughts about a film can sometimes be tricky, it’s not an objective process, although I can say with utter certainty that hours later, I’m still humming tunes from La La La At Rock Bottom with an alarming frequency. Emotion via singing has a canny knack for transcending languages, even if the words and styles can seem slightly alien. In this tale, music is key: it is hope, healer, and a hint at a forgotten past.

Beaten up and left for dead near a studio owned by Takuya (Katsumi’ Kawahara), an unknown youngster with a talent for singing (Subaru Shibutani) finds himself suffering from retrograde amnesia. Dubbed Pooch by Takuya, he has no knowledge of his past beyond a guitar pick, and a toy gun he instinctively grabs after his cat scan. Takuya dropped out of schools and took over her father’s studio at the same time as looking after her increasingly absent mind grandfather. She also manages Akainu, a local ensemble band, and, after hearing Pooch’s superlative singing voice, convinces him to join the band when its regular vocalist gets hit by a car.

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From here Subaru gives a brilliant performance - including some excellent vocal takes - as an amnesiac whose only link to the world is his singing. Eventually he uncovers the shady details of his past and comes to turns with who he really is. The music is a real high point here, as are the performances by Akainu which are a world apart from Western performances, more akin to variety than gigs, they’re a joy to watch. The leads have an arresting chemistry, and thankfully the film never falls back on a traditional romance plot to keep things interesting.

Japanese indie flicks have a tendency to follow themes of redemption and plaintive ruminations on the lives and attitudes of lowlifes, and Misono Universe is no different. Seeing small town Japan shot at night is a treat, the cluttered backstreets and suburban areas always managing to add a convincing setting to these tales of down and out folk holding onto the things they love. With a strong pair of leads, this story canters along to a finale that eschews any saccharine knot tying but still allows for a resolution which will induce a grin.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2015
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A young girl with a band tries to help an amnesiac petty criminal.

Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita

Writer: Tomoe Kanno

Starring: Subaru Shibutani, Sarina Suzuki, Katsumi Kawahara, Akainu, Shinji Imaoka, Motako Ishii, Suon Kan, Izumi Matsuoka, Masaki Matsuura, Takumi Matsuzawa, Shinsuke Michishita, Kirara Nakabayashi, Haruki Nakagawa, Fuminori Nakamura, Miho Nikaido

Year: 2015

Runtime: 103 minutes

Country: Japan

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