17 March 2009

All About Lily Chou Chou

[ 5/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

I got this DVD not long after it came out (~2002) based on a recommendation from Salon when I was an actual subscriber and read O'Hehir's review of the movie. Teen life is alienating enough, but Japanese teens--at least to my outside eyes--must have a thoroughly unique pain to endure. British schools might be just as cruel. Lily is a bit of gritty and lush experimentalism that entices its audience at the same time that it pushes them away. For instance: an expressive scene of precise teen-clique aggression is well done but then its impact gets a bit lost with all of the time shifting in the edits. That said, this movie is definitely worth the effort. I can't believe that my second viewing was only two weekends ago.

The Wikipedia entry contains some interesting background: On April 1, 2000, [the author] Shunji Iwai went live with his internet novel, in the form of a website called Lilyholic, where he posted messages as several characters on the BBS. Readers of the novel were free to post alongside Iwai's characters and interact with each other, indeed this BBS is where some of the content from the movie comes from. Threaded in the movie's scenes are typed discussions from characters on a Lily discussion group. The storytelling style looks relevant even (especially) now in 2009, but as the older kids start digging this social web thing the impact of pairing images of teens suffering group exclusion with the promise of egalitarian freedom online is lessened. Although far from tame, the edge of online presence no longer has the feel of a wild new world. I'm looking at you, Facebook.

Maybe Lily is due for a revival.

[ posted by sstrader on 17 March 2009 at 2:14:36 PM in Cinema ]