Its 8:45 pm
cold and rainy
So I got some bad news last week,the Family Video store by my house is closing down.
I got the news when I stopped by the other store about 5 miles from my house from the store manager. It seems like a beauty school wanted to lease the building that store is using and as Family Video owns the building decided it would make more money by leasing it to the school.
Needless to say,I’m pretty bummed. This store has been my “go-to” place for a huge majority of the films I have reviewed here and where I discovered IFC,A24 Films,IFC Midnight and Film Movement. I do feel fortunate that the staff who works my store will be transferred to the other store,the staff is simply amazing and I enjoy talking films with them very much.
Speaking of Film Movement,the cheetah pointed out its been FOREVER since we have posted a review from this fine company and we needed to fix that. Lucky for us,I just happened to have picked up “Oh Lucy!” during the huge 40th Anniversary Sale that Family Video ran in September and October. The cheetah and I will be back….
The film opens with us following Tokyo office lady Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima) who is on her way to work. She,along with many of her fellow countrymen,are wearing surgical masks because of the bad air in the city.
As she waiting for her train,a shocking event occurs right in front of her. Numbly Setsuko stands outside her work and smokes before checking in. One of her co-workers tries to comfort her by giving some sweets,which Setsuko accepts but doesn’t eat.
As she settles in for her day,her niece Mika (Shioli Kutsuna) calls Setsuko,we learn that Setsuko and her sister Ayako (Kaho Minami) are not close but Mika and Setsuko are which adds to the friction between the sisters.
Mika asks to meet Setsuko at Mika’s work and she does….Mika wants her to finish a American English class for her and it will be for free,Mika has paid for it but can’t attend because of work,so Setsuko goes…the class is held is a seedy area in a small room.
In fact Setsuko is the only student as she notices when she walks in. She meets the teacher,John (Josh Hartnett) who is very upbeat and positive. He gives Setsuko a big hug,she is taken aback at this as this isn’t doesn’t done in Japanese culture.
John starts the lesson by giving Setsuko a blonde wig and having her pick an English name from a jar,Lucy.
Then another student,a Japanese man named ,Takeshi Komori (Koji Yakusho) shows up. John repeats the process in hugging Komori,giving him a wig and a an American name,Tom.
Setsuko tells Mika she will continue the classes and goes back. It is then when John hugs Setsuko that we see just how completely alone and lonely she is as she hugs John very tightly back,she really doesn’t want to be let go. John,Setsuko and Komori complete their lesson with Setsuko looking forward to the next one eagerly.
But when she comes back,she is told that John quit suddenly and without notice. Setsuko asks for her money back but is told that a new teacher,Nancy,has been found.
Setsuko doesn’t like her and leaves the class,just in time to see Mika get into a cab with John and take off….
Setsuko is stunned by this development as she has started to develop feelings for John herself. She decides to go to the United States but Ayako learns what Mika has done,she insists on going with Setsuko to get Mika to come home.
This leads to several life altering events for everyone involved as Setsuko learns that sometimes love is not nearly as simple as it appears…..
I want to address one thing that REALLY bothered by about “Oh Lucy!” and that is how its presented on its DVD case. By the look and the critic’s blurbs,it made the same misleading marketing errors that another film we have reviewed,”Hello,My Name Is Doris“made and that is labeling “Oh Lucy!” as a comedy. It is NOT a comedy,it has a couple of humorous moments but this is a very sad and tragic story with just a glimmer of hope at its end. It bothers me greatly that Film Movement would include these critic blurbs because quite honestly,it comes across that these people didn’t actually watch this film.
That said,this is a beautiful,heartbreaking film of a soul so desperately aching for someone to just hold her. Setsuko has been always the one ignored,stepped on,used and so when she gets a innocent hug,she clings to the emotions that well up in heart like a life jacket,not wanting to ever let go. Her life is so lonely and she just can’t seem to find out how to reach out,for her,its a all or nothing proposition,she never learned the different levels of human contact.
The cast is amazing,every actor is perfect for their role,Terajima as Setsuko will break your heart,her yearning and longing as she hugs John in class with stay with you for a long time. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through life being so alone and culturally being limited on how to deal with emotion. Terajima has been a star in Japan for 15 years and she won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for her turn as Setsuko.
Josh Hartnett has basically left Hollywood and maybe turning up in a indie film like “Oh Lucy!” once every year,he has lost none of his talent as his John is a real puzzler,is he a nice guy overwhelmed by bad life choices or is he a piece of shit con man hiding behind a nice smile….the cheetah and I are still debating his character. I sure wish he would come back and do more films because he is a really fine actor.
“Oh Lucy!” is director Atsuko Hirayanagi’s feature film debut and she based “Oh Lucy!” off a short she did back in 2014. I don’t know why but for some reason 2018 seems to find us watching a gold mine of first time directors just crushing it….”Oh Lucy!” is one of the best films we have watched this year and definitely one of the most moving.
Unlike our past Film Movement review,this release did not feature a short film but does have a 20 minute interview with Ms. Hirayanagi along with some deleted scenes.
“Oh Lucy!” is unrated but should be considered a “R” rated film and it has a run time of 96 minutes. The cheetah and I give “Oh Lucy!” two thumbs/4 paws straight up.
Feel free to drop a comment…..