Directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi
Official Selection, Critics Week, 2017 Cannes Film Festival
Official Selection, 2017 Toronto International Film Festival
Setsuko doesn’t like people much, and frankly they don’t care for her either. Her desk job seems to involve ingratiating soulless peers more than actual work, and the only reprieve she can count on is the long, lonely drag of a cigarette. But an incoming phone call gives her a new potential escape; Setsuko’s niece needs someone to take her place in an English class. Maybe because Setsuko is doubtful of good intentions anyway, or maybe it’s because she just witnessed a stranger jump in front of a moving train, but Setsuko doesn’t squirm at the fact that the language school is run by yakuza or that it looks like a brothel. Or most likely she’s smitten with teacher, a smarmy moustached expat played by Josh Hartnett whose absurd techniques make him more a huckster than a Henry Higgins.
Soon, Setsuko has private lessons, is renamed Lucy, dons a blonde wig, and develops a penchant for good ol’ American hug-hellos. And before long, this transformed middle-aged desk jockey is on her way to San Diego to look for love, adventure, and her spunky niece, who has skipped town to chase her own sense of self-determination.
In this feature debut, Atsuko Hirayanagi expands her acclaimed short film into a comedy about loneliness and the often absurd will to keep living. As the lead, Shinobu Terajima physically embodies Setsuko’s fuck-it nonchalance and Lucy’s fun-seeking friskiness while always conveying that the two personas are reflections of the same internal desolation. OH LUCY! is a tender hug to the Setsukos of the world, and a wish that if they can’t find themselves, at least let them find each other. –Brian Hu
Andrew Ahn / USA / 2017 / 4 minsFor lonely hearts, karaoke proves to be more than a distraction in this rapturous Dia Frampton music video.
Precedes: OH LUCY!