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Actor Josh Hartnett finds satisfaction working on a new independent comedy
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LOS ANGELES (KABC) --
Josh Hartnett is one of the stars of the independent comedy film, "Oh Lucy!" where he plays a man teaching English in Japan.

After he unexpectedly heads home to Los Angeles, a student named Lucy and her sister show up on his doorstep.

"When you're doing a bigger film, people are expecting it to appeal to a larger audience so that's what it's geared toward, it's ultimately made to serve that purpose," Hartnett said. "And when you're doing a small film, it's a personal experience for the director and so when that actually gets pushed through and finds a good audience it's very rewarding. I love this process."

"Oh Lucy!" features several Japanese stars who don't often get the opportunity to work in films seen in the U.S. Hartnett loved the work ethic attached with this project.

"They would give me a schedule that was down to the minute, when I was going to be performing and when I was going to be off and, literally, it worked to the minute," Hartnett said. "And that just doesn't happen here."

Hartnett said there's a real satisfaction and excitement that goes with fostering a smaller project, especially when every screening they've had so far has ended with a standing ovation. "Oh Lucy!" is also up for two Independent Spirit Awards.

"It's done the best it could possibly do for a movie of this size that is both Japanese-American co-production. It's not something that fits into a box very easily," Hartnett said. "There are subtitles, but it's not throughout the whole film. And I would encourage everyone - and I don't say this about every film I do - I encourage everybody to see this film because I think it's genuinely one of the most entertaining films I've done."

"Oh Lucy!" is in southland theaters March 2nd in limited release.


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Review: A Tragic Wig and the Search for Happiness in Oh Lucy!
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Optimism sneaks into Oh Lucy!, an against-the-odds charmer about a woman, a tragic wig and an improbable journey. Its a near-minor miracle that just about everything works in this emphatically modest comedy-drama, which draws on squishy types and themes the lonely eccentric, the cross-cultural clash, the revelatory trip that can quickly sink less nimble features. The writer-director Atsuko Hirayanagi isnt selling a packaged idea about what it means to be human; she does something trickier and more honest here, merely by tracing the ordinary absurdities and agonies of one womans life.

She has a terrific partner in cinema with Shinobu Terajima, who plays Setsuko, our irresistibly flawed heroine. You first see Setsuko on a crowded train platform, a gray speck in a quiet sea of people, many wearing white surgical masks. Shes staring ahead as if lost in thought (or maybe simply lost), when a man brushes past her and jumps in front of the coming train. Theres a pause, the expected gasps and a discreet shot of the victim. Then Setsuko goes off to another day of work, a day like any other except that now shes deep in a story about identity, self-annihilation and stubborn existence.
These come into play in a contrived, borderline cutesy setup that once the parts have been snapped into place relaxes into a pleasurable, meandering portrait of someone getting another shot, maybe the last one, at happiness. Things start clicking when Setsukos niece (Shioli Kutsuna) persuades her reluctant aunt to take English-language lessons with an American, John, played by a sweet, sympathetic Josh Hartnett. (The great Koji Yakusho plays another student.) John seems laughably ill-equipped for the job; his dubious pedagogical method includes fake names and hairpieces. But after giving her a curly blond wig and a lingering hug, he inadvertently transforms Setsuko into Lucy, igniting a revolution of self.

Ms. Hirayanagi sketches in Setsukos life with unfussy pointillist realism. An office worker with no apparent friends and few relatives, Setsuko doesnt need a reason or even a frown to look unhappy. She doesnt stand out in a cluttered office thats a horror show of smiling obsequiousness and barely hidden contempt; she scarcely rates a genuine hello or a shred of interest. Soon after the story opens, she attends a retirement party for an older woman whos being put out to pasture with an ugly bouquet and a grotesque stuffed animal. When the retiring woman starts bawling, Setsuko flashes a smile, tightly baring her teeth in what seems like an invitation for us to judge her.
Its a small land mine of a scene it would be easy to turn against Setsuko right then but Ms. Hirayanagi proves distinctly adept at shifting tones. Shes also a fast worker, and she quickly navigates through the storys trickier, more emotionally precarious moments without seeming to rush through or away from them. The womans weeping may be sad, at least given the circumstances, office decorum and social norms. But her galumphing howls also sound funny, too loud, faintly ridiculous, performative and self-flattering. Setsuko may be mean, but in a movie that is very much concerned with identity and the roles that we assume and reject, its clear that she isnt entirely unjustified.

At first, Ms. Terajimas subtle performance works like a roadblock to easy sympathy. With her defeated shoulders and practiced deadpan, Setsuko seems to be a passive observer, someone who has become good at watching other people live. She isnt at all likable and it isnt clear, at least initially, if shes even worthy of sustained interest. When she hunkers down smoking in her tiny, uncomfortably cluttered apartment a killing field of empty cans, miscellaneous junk and aspirational fashion goods it looks as if shes living in the aftermath of a disaster of her own making. A lot of actors can weep on cue, but it takes one as good as Ms. Terajima to make emptiness feel haunted.

Together with her director, Ms. Terajima fills up that emptiness with deep, then deeper waves of feeling, and escalating, freewheeling comedy. After some narrative busywork, John disappears and Setsuko weighted down with a large suitcase and her comically, aggressively angry sister (Kaho Minami) follows him to Southern California. There, amid the sunshine and enveloping shadows, Setsuko finds and then loses herself while cutting loose and engaging in some savage psychological blood sport. She stumbles and she falls, plays at being Lucy and slips back into a radically changed Setsuko in a movie in which the human comedy is by turns tender, plaintive, heartfelt and joyful.

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", !" , , , !

http://ohlucyfilm.com/

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Comedy / Drama
Oh Lucy!
Production
2017 / 1.85:1 / Not Rated
Time
96 minutes
Language
English and Japanese with English subtitles / 5.1 Surround Sound
Country
USA & Japan
Company
Matchgirl Pictures, Meridian Content, Gloria Sanchez Productions, NHK (co-production)
Distributor
Film Movement

OH LUCY! follows Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima in an Independent Spirit Award-nominated performance), a single, emotionally unfulfilled woman, seemingly stuck with a drab, meaningless life in Tokyo. At least until shes convinced by her niece, Mika (Shioli Kutsuna, Deadpool 2), to enroll in an unorthodox English class that requires her to wear a blonde wig and take on an American alter ego named Lucy. The new identity awakens something dormant in Setsuko, and she quickly develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett, Showtimes Penny Dreadful). When John suddenly disappears from class, Setsuko travels halfway around the world in search of him, and in the outskirts of Southern California, family ties and past lives are tested as she struggles to preserve the dream and promise of Lucy.

Josh Hartnett
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Josh Hartnett first burst onto the scene with the back-to-back hit thriller films Halloween H2O and The Faculty. He then gained further recognition for his acting chops in the critically acclaimed debut film of Sophia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides, and shortly thereafter, catapulted into superstardom when he played the lead role of Captain Danny Walker in Pearl Harbor. This was followed by a string of hits as the lead in O., 40 Days & 40 Nights and Black Hawk Down. Josh then took a hiatus from Hollywood life to focus on self and family, but recently came back onto the scene with his powerful performance in John Logans hit television show, Penny Dreadful.

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  , ! / Oh Lucy!

Cross-Cultural Comedy Oh Lucy! at Nuart

Josh Hartnett, epic gardens: Check out these indie flicks screening in town this March

Stanley Tucci Has Teachable Moment In Submission; Josh Hartnett Charms in Oh Lucy! Specialty Box Office Preview
Oh Lucy!
Director-writer: Atsuko Hirayanagi
Writer: Boris Frumin
Cast: Shinobu Terajima, Josh Hartnett, Kaho Minami, Koji Yakusho, Shioli Kutsuna, Megan Mullally, Reiko Aylesworth
Distributor: Film Movement

Distributor Film Movement caught dramedy Oh Lucy! at last years Cannes Film Festival where it debuted in Critics Week. The film takes place in Japan as well as California, starring Shinobu Terajima and Josh Hartnett. Oh Lucy! is Film Movements third title of the year as well as the third release by a female director. The film is up for two Spirit Awards this Saturday.

Said Film Movement president Michael Rosenberg about Oh Lucy!: Its humorous, but serious at the same time. Its also quirky, but incredibly well-done and acted. Though it is set in Japan, it heads to California and with Josh Hartnett, theres potential to expand it beyond [a typical] foreign-language film. The fish out of water and finding yourself elements are appealing.

Oh Lucy! centers on a single, emotionally unfulfilled woman (Shinobu Terajima) who is seemingly stuck with a drab, meaningless life in Tokyo. But she is convinced by her niece, Mika, to enroll in an unorthodox English class that requires her to wear a blonde wig and take on an American alter ego named Lucy.  This new identity awakens something dormant in Setsuko, and she quickly develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett).  When John suddenly disappears from class and Setsuko learns that he and her niece were secretly dating, Setsuko enlists the help of her sister Ayako and the pair fly halfway across the world to the outskirts of Southern California in search of the runaway couple. In a brave new world of tattoo parlors and seedy motels, family ties and past lives are tested as Setsuko struggles to preserve the dream and promise of Lucy.

Were going relatively broad for us, said Rosenberg. Were making a concerted effort for Japanese-Americans in the West Coast. [The filmmakers and cast] have been doing a lot of press with Japanese-American publications there. Were also pushing to women and Josh Hartnett fans who perhaps havent seen him in a while. He has a lot of fans who follow him and he has been very supportive of the film here as well as all over the world.

Rosenberg added that Hartnett is doing a radio tour for the film now and said that hes messaged his fans that he wouldnt encourage them to see all his films, but that this is one of them they should see.

Oh Lucy! is opening at the Landmark 57 West and Village East in New York as well as the NuArt in Los Angeles Friday. Director Atsuko Hirayanagi will take part in select Q&As in New York, while Shinobu Terajima will do the same in Los Angeles. The film will then head to select cities the following week, with more markets planned well into March and beyond around North America.

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Oh Lucy! review: Cultures clash in unique Josh Hartnett film
Here is a movie centered on Japanese-American cultural clashes that includes a juicy part for Josh Hartnett, Vanessa Carltons 2002 hit A Thousand Miles and extreme familial dysfunction.

Oh Lucy! is, in other words, proudly and demonstrably its own thing. Filmmaker Atsuko Hirayanagi presents a picture of alienation and loneliness that is both painstakingly deadpan and sincere in the way it observes protagonist Setsuko Kawashima (Shinobu Terajima) as English classes in Tokyo with the handsome John (Hartnett) awaken her from a yearslong stupor and inspire a life-changing trip to Southern California.

Oh Lucy! begins with Setsuko (whose English class alter ego is Lucy) stuck in a drone-like office nightmare and follows her as she increasingly embraces the power of her emotions after years of repressing them.

It is unabashedly strange in the ways it assembles seemingly disparate elements, and its unafraid to bring its character toward an unlikable place in the service of its broader truths. The filmmaker has a keen eye for playing the fish-out-of-water elements in a fashion that feels organic rather than obvious and the larger ideas about the pervasive global power of American culture land in interesting ways.

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  , ! / Oh Lucy! , , !!!

Found in translation: OH LUCY! is a quirky delight

Film Review: Oh Lucy!
...
But, if anything, Hirayanagis greatest achievement here is finally eliciting a good performance from Josh Hartnett, that ubiquitously pretty if inexpressive piece of wood. As a bluff, basic-bullshit salesman given to fake-warm hugging and highly dubious love object for the rest of the cast, he is perfection.
...

Oh Lucy! is a late-in-life-transformation tale thats more honest than most

On the surface, Setsuko Kawashimas life looks quite simple. She has a job (doing something for a Tokyo company that does something else, but what, exactly, isnt quite clear). She has a niece she dotes on and a sister she avoids, mainly because the sister stole and married Setsukos boyfriend, a fact Setsuko brings up every time her sisters name is mentioned. Then one day, on her way to work, an unknown man whispers goodbye to her, then throws himself on the train tracks.

Oh Lucy!, from Japanese writer-director Atsuko Hirayanagi, is about whats hidden and what emerges when Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima) finds a little bit of freedom from her life of routine. When her niece can no longer afford the English classes shes been taking, Setsuko reluctantly agrees to attend in her place. When the instructor John (Josh Hartnett), a gregarious American with a penchant for awkwardly long hugs, hands her a box of American names, she picks Lucy. (For unknown reasons, he also gives her a fuzzy, frayed blond wig.) As Setsuko becomes less Setsuko and more Lucy, her world begins to open up: She begins a flirtation with a fellow student, gets embarrassingly hammered at a karaoke-focused retirement party, and, when her niece suddenly leaves for America, sets off with her sister to find her. John, who has since returned home, becomes their reluctant tour guide and translator.
Josh Hartnett is a sunny English tutor who becomes a reluctant tour guide. (Photo: Bonnie Osborne/Film Movement)

The closed-in sense of Setsukos life in Japan Hirayanagi keeps the lighting either drab or dim in these scenes contrasts with the wild, wide-open California dreaming of Lucys American adventure. She tries pot. She gets a tattoo. She is introduced to the world of automotive sex. Like any convert, she also takes her new life to sometimes troubling extremes.

Terajima renders Setsukos transformation as a slow but inevitable burn. With her voice hovering just above a whisper in her early scenes, her eyes do most of the work. As she progresses, it gets louder, and she starts to shine with a wicked confidence and humor. The role of John, though underwritten, is a swaggering embodiment of American-ness, yet Hartnett never lumbers into caricature. As Setsukos judgmental, meddling sister, Kaho Minami delivers a performance that illuminates their strained yet nonconfrontational relationship. The sisters plane ride to America, where they sit on either side of an American woman (Megan Mullally), begins with polite, halting conversation but ends with Setsuko blurting out, She stole my boyfriend.

All this before takeoff.

Eat Pray Love this isnt. Although Lucy is on a journey of self-discovery, she often hurts others in her quest for herself. That makes Hirayanagis take on the later-in-life coming-of-age story more honest than most. The filmmaker doesnt shy away from showing the negative consequences of Lucys actions, but neither does she judge them. If Setsuko was once cautious and insecure, living for others, because she was ashamed of herself, Lucy is a blond bulldozer, becoming interested only in what she wants. All the while, we and she arent sure whether Lucy is becoming more herself, or transforming into someone she was never meant to be.

Unrated. At Landmarks E Street Cinema. Contains drug use and sex. In Japanese and English with some subtitles. 96 minutes.
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",!" 2018!
2018 Wisconsin Film Festival tickets go on sale this week
The ink has barely dried on their Oscar picks, and now Madison movie fans can turn to planning for their next big film event: The 2018 Wisconsin Film Festival.

The schedule for the eight-day festival, running April 5 to April 12, will be announced at 2018.wifilmfest.org on Thursday, with tickets going on sale at 11 a.m. Saturday. This years festival, featuring more than 140 independent features, documentaries, classic films and shorts, will take place at AMC Madison 6 as well as several UW-Madison locations, including the Marquee Theater, Chazen Museum of Art, UW-Cinematheque and, in a new addition for 2018, Shannon Hall in the UW Memorial Union.

Tickets are $10 per film for the general public, $8 for students, seniors and UW faculty and staff, and $5 for tickets to the festivals Big Screens, Little Folks movies aimed at children. In addition, diehard festgoers can buy a $325 all-access pass that gets them into every screening and special event. Tickets will be sold at AMC Madison 6 and the Memorial Union box office, as well as online at 2018.wifilmfest.org and by phone at 265-2787.

A few of the titles already announced for this years festival include:

Oh Lucy! A timid Japanese woman takes on a brassy American alter ego with the help of a blonde wig in this effervescent comedy, co-starring Josh Hartnett.

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Oh Lucy! upends the road trip cliché in the most charming way

By Kevin Young

It seems like there was a time when bumper stickers like "Mean People Suck" and "Practice Random Acts Of Kindness And Senseless Acts Of Beauty" were plastered everywhere. They're nice ideologies but in the end it's all bullshit. At the very least, we all have our mean moments and practice acts of selfishness. Hey, nobody's perfect but that doesn't stop Setsuko, the protagonist of Atsuko Hirayanagi's Oh Lucy! from trying to be the best person possible in the eyes of those closest to her. Unfortunately, she often gets in her own way

It's rare that a movie begins with someone being whacked by rapid transit. That's exactly how Hirayanagi's film begins a frontward step into pathos and bleak humor. Witnessing this violent act of suicide does little to wake Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima) from her zombified activities. Her life is overbearingly quiet. Her job and any activities associated with it are the only things that provide sound to her life and even that is barely audible. Having taken a few too many to the chin, that aforementioned selflessness that Setsuko tries to exercise is threatening to deteriorate. Her niece, Mika (Shioli Kutsuna), is kind of a manipulative brat and Ayako (Kaho Minami), Setsuko's sister, well dear god she suuuuucks. Mika may have a martyr complex but it is nowhere near as bad as Ayako's constant belittling of her sister whenever possible. One would imagine that if Ayako saw a therapist, something her personality would never ever allow, said therapist would prescribe her a rope.

When Ayako begs her sister for the umpteenth favor in their one-sided relationship, Setsuko reluctantly agrees to cover the cost of English classes that Mika had been attending as well as take the remainder of classes. It is then that Setsuko enters the English Only Zone of John (Josh Hartnett), an American instructor in this tiny classroom made up of two students, Setsuko and a widower named Takeshi (Koji Yakusho).John's classes are unconventional to say the least. In their first class, John hugs his students, has them wear tacky wigs, and changes their names to fit a more American model, Setsuko becoming Lucy and Takeshi becoming Tom. At one point, John hugs the now blonde wig adorned Setsuko. When Setsuko hugs him way too long, her eyes close, as if in a state bliss and peace. Though Setsuko gets to know Takeshi outside of class, her mind is completely locked on John. In him, and her new alter ego, she sees an escape from dreariness. She has a literal mic drop moment at an employee going away party. It's here where the venom and spite seep through her seemingly calm exterior, leaving others shocked and upset. Her moment of rebirth is quickly squashed when she finds out Mika has run off with John to Los Angeles. With the brazenness that John has helped her find within herself, Setsuko decides to go to Los Angeles too. Unfortunately, Ayako and her domineering ways have decided to join her. Chaos ensues.
Like Setsuko herself, Oh Lucy! is deadpan. There is humor but it rests within the audience's universal recognition of shitty behavior that we've either encountered or employed. Some of the humor is astoundingly dark.

Every actor in this film brings their characters to life. Kaho Minami makes you wish Ayako would have a magical movie moment to relieve her of her assholery. Shioli Kutsuna's performance reminds its audience that despite all her brattiness, Mika is still a sympathetic character. Josh Hartnett makes John a lost soul with villainous tendencies. In the end it's Shinobu Terajima's show. Without saying a word you can feel Setsuko's desperation, her way too small pockets of joy, and the seething spitefulness that makes her life a never-ending fail horn. We feel her crush on John as she watches him sing along to Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles" and relishes the sliver of time he shows her how to pump gas into a car. You feel heartbroken for and angry at Setsuko when she screws up royally choosing to take part in a temporary respite from loneliness.

Another one of the best things about the film is the way it pleasantly subverts standard dramatic expectations. I assumed things would take the usual route most road trip/self-rediscovery films take. Usually films using this angle involve the protagonist meeting quirky characters and finding inspiration. Usually in a road trip film, a pair of estranged sisters would find love and laughter along the way. This movie says no thank you to meeting that expectation.

Getting out of your own way is not very easy. Oh Lucy! illustrates it to a tee.

Oh Lucy! Starring Shinobu Terajima, Josh Hartnett, and Kaho Minami. Directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi. NR.
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Oh Lucy!: A made-in-Japan take on the American road trip movie
by Mark Schilling
Contributing Writer

Ive seen my share of Japanese movies set partly or wholly in the United States. With a few exceptions, the filmmakers only skim the exotic surface, while the Japanese characters never become more than fish out of water gasping for a breath of the familiar, be it instant noodles or spoken Japanese.

Based on her prize-winning MFA thesis short, Atsuko Hirayanagis Oh Lucy! premiered in the 2017 Cannes Critics Week section and screened at many other overseas festivals before finally arriving on screens here.

This international attention is deserved: Oh Lucy! sure-footedly crosses the U.S.-Japan divide. That doesnt mean its perfect: The gags often play on stereotypes, while the drama sometimes verges on the overwrought. Yet on the whole the film is meticulously crafted; fine detailing is often absent in the usual Japanese international movie, whose brush of choice is broad.
Much of this is due to spot-on casting: For her first feature, Hirayanagi snagged some of the best Japanese actors currently working, starting with Shinobu Terajima in the title role. Also, instead of the amateur actors that fill the non-Japanese roles in so many local films, Josh Hartnett plays the love interest. No longer the box-office force that starred in such hits as Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down, he is still a recognizable name.

That said, Hirayanagi and Boris Frumins script doesnt always give him and the others a lot to work with. The English dialogue is trimmed to the bone, though it is punchy and pointed enough to get laughs and reveal character.

Our heroine is Setsuko, a 43-year-old OL (office lady or female company employee) who hates her dull job and lonely life. So, when her feckless niece Mika (Shioli Kutsuna), a maid at a Tokyo maid cafe, asks her aunt to take over her prepaid English conversation lessons she signed up for a years worth Setsuko agrees to give eikaiwa (English conversation) a try as a break from her stultifying routine.

The teacher for her trial lesson, John (Hartnett), dubs her Lucy, makes her don a blonde wig and stuffs a ping-pong ball into her mouth, but hes tall, handsome and gives out hugs as part of his lesson plan. Setsuko is sold. She also makes the acquaintance of another new student, the awkward but enthusiastic Tom(Koji Yakusho).

Then John suddenly quits the school and Setsuko learns that Mika has run off with him to California. After drunkenly venting at a company farewell party for a despised colleague, Setsuko decides to fly to Los Angeles together with Ayako (Kaho Minami), her estranged older sister and Mikas worried mom.

This section is mostly East-meets-West comedy, as the sisters, their minimal English notwithstanding, track down a now broke and girlfriend-less John and, with him as a reluctant driver, go in search of Mika in San Diego, trading barbs all the way some funny, some wounding.

The films serious undercurrent surfaces as Setsukos infatuation with John becomes more than a joke. She is, we see, not only a comically desperate 40-something woman, but also a little bad and a little mad. Terajima keeps all these elements under pitch-perfect control, even when the film plunges over the cliff (once literally) into histrionics.

She also keeps the audience on the contrary heroines side. Flaws and all, youll love Lucy.

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Oh Lucy! gives honest look at a search for self

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Top Picks: PBSs 'No Passport Required,' 'Oh Lucy!' on DVD and Blu-ray, and more

Make sure your car is ready for those summer road trips with the app Drivvo, the podcast 'American Innovations' details the stories of the people behind the discoveries that are still influencing our lives today, and more top picks.
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Blu-ray:

The most obvious label for Oh Lucy! is "midlife crisis drama": a 40-something Japanese office worker falls unexpectedly for a handsome American English teacher, and follows him back to Los Angeles when he unexpectedly leaves. Yet "midlife crisis" doesn't feel quite right for the mixture of tones that the film, the debut feature for co-writer/director Atsuko Hirayanagi, manages to capture and hones in on.

The office worker is Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima), who tries to minimize her presence in a drab office doing some undefined computer work. She receives a call from her niece, Mika (Shioli Kutsuna), asking to meet for lunch, where Mika pitches her a deal: she can't afford to keep taking English classes next door, and she can't get a refund, so maybe Setsuko can take the class in her stead and pay Mika the 500,000 yen enrollment fee. Setsuko is skeptical, but changes her mind when she meets John (Josh Hartnett), a man who gives off a warm presence, loves hugs, and slaps a blonde curly wig onto Setsuko and insists she go by "Lucy" in his classroom.

Hirayanagi's portrait of Setsuko's job and the routes she takes to get to it are drab and gray, filled with straight lines and crowds of anonymous people who are simultaneously invading each other's personal space but distinctly isolated from one another -- after a man kills himself jumping in front of the subway in front of Setsuko, a co-worker laments that she hasn't seen a jumper yet rather that inquiring about his identity. It's no surprise that the surreal and oddly colorful world of John's class, in the basement of what looks like a renovated brothel outfitted with neon lights, makes Setsuko feel alive, especially when John leans in for one of his traditional hugs. Unfortunately for Setsuko, the 500,000 yen is John and Mika's cue to return to America, leaving Setsuko alone with an equally lonely classmate, Takeshi/"Ted" (Koji Yakusho), an underwhelming new teacher, and Setsuko's irritated sister, Ayako (Kaho Minami), who is angry that Setsuko let Mika rope her in.

When Mika sends a postcard that features her new address, both of them fly to California to find her, only to find John, alone, with another postcard to follow. Slowly, Hirayanagi and co-writer Boris Frumin unpack Setsuko's long-standing frustrations with Ayako, while Setsuko gets close to John. Hartnett has always been charming, and he's a perfect fit for John, who may not have a malicious bone in his body, but clearly has a knack for getting himself into serious trouble. Minami is also extremely impressive as Ayako, who uses her angry, bossy personality to hide a web of tangled emotions toward her daughter and her sister -- when the veneer cracks, the vulnerability Minami projects is intense.

However, the film belongs to Terajima, whose performance will hopefully be remembered among the year's best. Like Ayako, she bottles her feelings up, but tends to project her frustrations in a passive-aggressive way. The way she opens up and lets those emotions take her over around John is like the difference between Hirayanagi's gray Japan and the airy, sunny Los Angeles, where colors are vivid and the sky is always bright. Terajima's performance is frequently small, internal, precise, resisting the big outbursts that would normally punctuate this kind of movie. She provides the foundation on which Hirayanagi builds the film's uniquely compelling tone. There is a tendency for this sort of film to fall into two categories: one where the viewer expects some sort of emotional (as in the character, not the viewer) triumph, or one where the film exists to comment on a character that some would call unlikable. Oh Lucy! is neither, seeking to create a full portrait of Setsuko's loneliness. The film's landing is a bit shaky, but ultimately quite moving: where some movies would feel the need for her melancholy to be resolved, Hirayanagi understands that it's enough for her to have it reflected back at her, and understood.

The Blu-ray
Oh Lucy! arrives on Blu-ray with the same painted poster artwork that was used for the American theatrical poster, which is an okay but uninspiring "floating heads" design. Of c ourse, it's hard to know how else one would sum up a movie like this in a single image, but I digress. The one-disc Blu-ray release comes in a Vortex-style case, and there is a booklet inside advertising other Film Movement releases.

The Video and Audio
Presented in 1.85:1 1080p AVC and with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track, Oh Lucy! looks and sounds very good. The drab, slightly desaturated look of Setsuko's Tokyo office job and the surrounding streets contrast with the comparative warmth of her room or the hints of color in John's underground English classroom. Later, when the characters go to Los Angeles, the city feels bright and vivid, full of color and light. Fine detail is excellent. Sound is a bit more perfunctory, with the film being very dialogue-heavy, but music is rendered nicely and the contrasting visual atmospheres are supported by the mix. As is Film Movement's norm, a second, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is included for some reason, although I definitely approve of their inclusion of two separate subtitle tracks, one which subtitles the Japanese dialogue in English, and one which captions the entire movie in English.

The Extras
Two video extras are included. First, there is an NYAFF Chat with director Atsuko Hirayanagi from Subway Cinema (18:06). Hirayanagi talks about getting producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay on board, how she assembled the cast, filming with two different crews, and her own history starting from when she first wanted to be an actor through to becoming a director. It's a decent interview, but the lack of discussion about the film itself rather than the circumstances that led to making it is a bit frustrating. Secondly, there is a brief collection of two deleted scenes (2:40). Having seen the film, neither is very surprising, especially the first one (it seems hard to believe watching the movie that there wasn't more to a certain role), but both are unimportant and fine as edits.

The big disappointment here is the absence of the short film Oh Lucy!, which Hirayanagi says in her interview is much different than the feature film, even if the concept is the same. Given Film Movement's DVDs always make a point of including a short as a supplement, it feels like a real obvious omission, although it's also easy to believe that some sort of rights issue prevented it from being included.

Trailers for After the Storm, Hana-Bi, Harmonium, Antonia's Line, Full Moon in Paris, and In Between are available under the special features menu. An original theatrical trailer for Oh Lucy! is also included.

Conclusion
Oh Lucy! is a funny, moving, bittersweet movie, anchored by an incredible lead performance that captures a range of emotions that rarely appear in the same film, or with the sort of tone and intent used by writer/director Atsuko Hirayanagi. Film Movement has given the picture a strong Blu-ray to match -- Highly recommended.

44

", !"- Rotten Tomatoes 2018 .  :flag:

Oh Lucy! (2018)
100%
#4
Critics Consensus: Oh Lucy! roots its narrative quirks in universal themes and deep empathy for its characters, all brought to life by strong performances from a talented cast led by the thoroughly charming Shinobu Terajima.
Synopsis: Setsuko is a single, emotionally unfulfilled woman, seemingly stuck with a drab, meaningless life in Tokyo. At least until she's convinced by her niece, Mika to enroll in an unorthodox English class that requires her to wear a blonde wig and take on an American alter ego named "Lucy." This new identity awakens something dormant in Setsuko, and she quickly develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett). When John suddenly disappears from class and Setsuko learns that he and her niece were secretly dating, Setsuko enlists the help of her sister, Ayako and the pair fly halfway across the world to the outskirts of Southern California in search of the runaway couple. In a brave new world of tattoo parlors and seedy motels, family ties and past lives are tested as Setsuko struggles to preserve the dream and promise of "Lucy."
Starring: Shinobu Terajima, Josh Hartnett, Shioli Kutsuna, Megan Mullally
Directed By: Atsuko Hirayanagi


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