Berlin International Film Festival 2002 /
Shanghai International Film Festival 2002 /
New York Film Festival 2001 /
Hayato Ichihara, Shugo Oshinari, Yu Aoi, Ayumi Ito
Rockwell Eyes Inc.
Mysterious, ethereal dream-pop star Lily Chou-Chou dominates the charts, and the hearts of middle schoolers across Japan. Among them, the shy Shuichi (Hayato Ichihara) and the bullish Shusuke (Shugo Oshinari). Lily Chou-Chou’s music becomes a shared gateway into their tumultuous lives over the course of a few, formative years of adolescence. The teens discover their identities, affirm their passion and the slippery distinction between right and wrong as their embattled psychic landscapes are laid bare on the virtual walls of an Internet chatroom – pulsing to the pangs of a powerful, all-consuming fandom.
With ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU, Shunji Iwai’s coming-of-age cinema transitions towards a more clearly defined genre space, complicating expected tropes with a powerful glimpse into darkness and a potent look at a generation’s growing, media-saturated malaise. The defining film of an era (rivaled perhaps only by Hideaki Anno’s LOVE AND POP released a few years prior) ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU stands today as an exhilarating chronicle of teen angst and a high point in Shunji Iwai’s career for the ways in which it pushes the medium in new directions and perfectly encapsulates the myriad textures of the late ’90s and early 2000s. From chatroom hyperlink text to the budding digital cinematography that enhances the film with a disturbing intimacy, Iwai depicts a culture still dominated by CD sales, anticipation for the incoming gaming consoles and, most importantly, a growing feeling of doom-and-gloom vis-à-vis the new millennium. A sublimation of everyday life into a film of nearly mythical proportions, anchored in tragedy. – Ariel Esteban Cayer