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[CRITICAL] OH LUCY !

First feature-length film of the Japanese director Atsuko Hirayanagi, OH LUCY ! is a comedy drama rather funny on a background of a road movie initiatique not always successful.

Setsuko (Shinobu History) leads a bleak and lonely in Tokyo. Driven by her niece, Mika, to take English classes, she made the acquaintance of John (Josh Hartnett), a professor extravagant of which it falls under the charm. Decked out in the workshops of a wig, buckled and renamed for the occasion Lucy, the forty-something woman is going to little by little enter in a character that sets them free and fascinated by it. John and Mika flee to the United States, while in the full existential wake-up call, Setsuko decides to follow under the california sun, determined to conquer the heart of the handsome american.

And even if she claims not to have wanted to write a critique of japanese society, Atsuko Hirayanagi discusses the culture of japanese in this it has more cruel. The film opens on a wide shot front of a tide of Tokyoïtes piled on a dock metro. Immediately launched the film directs us to the dehumanization of individuals reduced to their function of simple shapeless mass. The table continues to be set up, with scenes of the office, where employees are isolated from each other, locked behind their workstations without any interaction possible. Relationships between individuals are only permitted through scenes, re-enactments of social connections (in the image of the scene with the pot of departure or that of the karaoke). Emotions are always faked or exaggerated in the manner of bad actors of theatre kabuki. Moreover, the director uses wonderfully the registry comical to counterbalance the heaviness of his words. Humor that highlights brilliantly the absurdity of social relations.

The wanderings of a character in the streets overloaded Tokyo are remarkably filmed. The frames are continuously saturated, the horizon hopelessly clogged up in the privacy of the apartment Setsuko, leaving her no more room to expand. This daily oppressive it seemed to be only one possible outcome, suicide. The pattern of the subway that emerges, carrying with him the tokyoïtes desperate almost becomes an allegorical figure tense. The simple announcement of a train delay, then takes on a whole new meaning, hinting without saying a word the extent of the distress of the character.

The meeting with John, the false professor of English freakish, acts as a shock. By becoming Lucy, Setsuko wakes up from its lethargy. This costume which made her a woman full of assurance, uninhibited and in tune with his emotions pleases and fascinates. The intelligence of Atsuko Hirayanagi is to use the language, not as a mere means of communication, but as an object of desire in itself. What matters here in the words, the phrases, this is not the meaning but the imaginary to which they refer. Satsuke can thus become, for a time, this california-cool and casual, which takes into Josh Hartnett in his arms. The film is built around this report to the costumes worn by individuals to create an avatar audience. Mika dressed as a French maid for her waitress, who recites the text as an extra, John false teacher charlatan who once again returned to the United States looks more like an unemployed, broke or even Komori who takes on the traits of a Tom falsely enthusiastic. The challenge of the second part will be to bring these masks in order to reconnect with the real emotions.

Yes but now, this second part misses his target by losing oneself in a story of the intimate confused or even agreed. First of all you need to know that Oh Lucy ! was originally a short film of end of study which was presented at Cannes in 2014, and in particular the winner of the Jury Prize at Sundance in 2015. Strong of this success, Atsuko Hirayanagi returns to its starting frame in Japan and wrote the sequel will drop in the United States. Unfortunately it is not the height of the first part, and a patchwork effect is felt. Setsuko supposed to reveal and open is vampiriser by the gallery of characters that unfolds by taking a disproportionate weight. In wanting to flesh out the plot, the film degenerates into farce intimate boring and predictable. The director moves away from his character and loses the viewer in a series of skits to consistency is sometimes questionable. All the good ideas of the beginning fade into a scene rigid, monotonous, and purring. One does not find even the blonde wig and the mac-gray that were presenting, however, a movie character fascinating. Only the idea of the disillusionment is interesting. Stuck in motels seedy and wandering around wide avenues impersonal, Setsuko realizes that America does not correspond to the expectations she had planned. John is revealing as sad and disenchanted than it is.

The great strength of the film lies, however, in the mastery of humor that gives it a nice rhythm while refining the look worn by the director on his subject. Atsuko Hirayanagi manages to juggle meticulously between laughter and emotion, often within the same scene, and it is exciting to observe the shifts that it puts in place. The biggest regret relates to a formalism may be too overwhelming which prevents the Japanese from entering a real letting go that the movie promises but never reaches really.

Aurélien Milhaud

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[CRITICAL] OH LUCY !
Original title : Oh Lucy !

Achievement : Atsuko Hirayanagi

Scenario : Atsuko Hirayanagi, Boris Frumin

Main actors : Shinobu History, Josh Hartnett, Koji Yakusho

Release Date : January 31, 2018

Duration : 1h35min

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