Friday, July 27, 2007

Linda Linda Linda (Japan 2005)

Charming and light-hearted, Linda Linda Linda tells an incredibly simplistic story, but managed to keep me entertained. While comparisons to the much-loved Swing Girls are sure to be made, Linda Linda Linda makes a name for itself thanks in large part to the excellent performances from it's four leading ladies. Sometimes movies don't have to reinvent the wheel to be great.

Kyoko (Aki Maeda), Nozomi (Shiori Sekine), and Kei (Yu Kashii) are high-school friends that also happen to be in a band together. Kyoko plays drums, Nozomi plays bass, and Kei kinda plays the guitar, but they're in a hurry to find a replacement singer after their original vocalist Moe (Shione Yukawa) quit after suffering an injury. Time is of the essence to find a new singer, because in a few days, they plan to perform in their school's rock festival. Not only do they have to find a singer, but they also have to practice the songs they plan to cover for the show. Since their original singer is out of the picture, the girls decide to cover songs by the popular Japanese punk band "The Blue Hearts" (Linda Linda Linda was a big hit of theirs). Without time to give it much thought, Kei suggests that the next person to walk into their sight from where they're sitting will be the new lead singer. After awhile, Son (Du-na Bae), a foreign-exchange student from Korea, walks down the stairs in front of the girls, and that's when Kei offers her the position. Now the girls have their singer, but a new problem has presented itself: Son doesn't speak fluent Japanese! Nothing seems to be going smoothly for the girls, and as if practicing for the school festival wasn't enough pressure, Kyoko finds herself wanting to tell her schoolmate Kazuya (Katsuya Kobayashi) how she feels about him. Kei's ex-boyfriend comes back into her life, and "Mackey" (Kenichi Matsuyama) confesses his feelings for Korean! Everything seems to be happening at the most inconvenient time, because the girls need to focus on the music and nothing else! The last day of practice arrives, and the girls have a show time of 3:30. What else could possibly get in their way?

To be honest, not a lot happens in Linda Linda Linda, but the little that does happen is really good stuff. All of the performances are fantastic, with each girl seemingly representing a different personality trait. The movie even tells viewers that Kei is the sassy, but sweet one. Kyoko is cute and talented one, and Nozomi is the shy one. So what does that make Son? Well, she's definitely unique, and quite honestly Du-na Bae's performance was my favorite thing about the movie. She gives Son so many interesting little quirks that you can't keep your eyes off her, or you might miss something. Coupled with the fact that she only speaks so-so Japanese, it makes her all the more entertaining when dealing with her bandmates. As enjoyable a movie as it is, it isn't without a few shortcomings that I feel it's my duty to point out. It's running time is a little long for this kind of movie, at around two hours, one has to question of so much time was needed to tell such a simple story. Also, as I previously mentioned, not a lot happens in the movie. The girls seem to just hang out and practice a lot, which I know is the idea behind the movie, but coupled with the length of the film, less patient viewers might have a hard time sitting still. It's all about the performances, and in that department, everyone delivers in spades.

I always enjoy movies that deal with topics that we as people can relate to. Linda Linda Linda is a film that really explores the importance of friendship, in a high-school setting, which is where most of us need(ed) good friends the most. It's also about growing up, and realizing that the things we do now, good or bad, become the memories that stay with us forever. I think we can all relate to that. (Lee)

Grade: B


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