Film Review: Oh Lucy!
By Brigette Ginter
Oh Lucy! tells the story of Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima), a middle-aged Japanese admin worker stuck in the daily grind of Tokyo life. All the predictability of her life changes when she begins to take English classes, coerced into it by her niece, Mika. Under the tutelage of John (Josh Hartnett), an unconventional teacher of ESL with questionable methods, Setsuko begins her “studies.”
In her first class, John encourages Setsuko to take on the personality of Lucy, complete with a blonde curly wig. According to John, “when you are in class, you are Lucy, not Setsuko.” Unlike the reserved Setsuko, Lucy is a “fun girl that likes to have a good time.” John’s methods include prolonged hugs and teaching his students to speak “lazy” American English.
As we might guess, Setsuko develops a crush on John. When John suddenly disappears, Setsuko sets out to find him, leading her on a journey to a variety of unglamorous locations throughout Southern California. During the film, Setsuko seems to be progressively unraveling, emotionally and mentally.
Shinobu Terajima does a wonderful job demonstrating the isolation and midlife crisis that her character is experiencing. Josh Hartnett does a strong job playing an initial nice guy that has deadbeat undertones.
The film has a handful of extremely uncomfortable moments and seems to balance humorous episodes with moments of tragedy. For not a very long film, (1hr 35min), the film certainly does cram in a lot of events.
Although enjoyable, I did wish the film had a bit more substance. It seemed to have the potential but fell a little flat.
Oh Lucy! is playing at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Sunday (Feb 4) at Metro 4 Theatre at 2:40 p.m.