‘Oh Lucy!’ film review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
Oh Lucy! is the opposite of a usual North American going-on-a-trip film because, instead of the main character visiting another country, the protagonist travels from another country to a place on our continent and learns about our culture.
Our story begins in Tokyo where Setsuko Kawashima (Shinobu Terajima) is waiting in the subway station on her way to her office job, which she does not enjoy. She witnesses a man run onto the tracks and commit suicide as the subway arrives. Shortly after that incident, Setsuko’s niece, Mika (Shiori Kutsuna), tells her to take her place in an English class that she has been attending for six months in a language school near the café where Mika works. Setsuko goes to the class and gets along with her teacher named John (Josh Hartnett). The following week, John unexpectedly disappears, and when Setsuko receives a postcard from Mika revealing that she is in California with John, Setsuko, and her sister, Mika’s mother Ayako (Kaho Minami), travel to Los Angeles to find Mika—a trip that does not go as planned.
I became interested in this film because Will Ferrell and Adam McKay produced it. Before watching it, I was expecting to see a romantic comedy with a few serious scenes and a pleasant ending. However, it is pretty much a drama because the film surprisingly talks about suicide. The first scene will cause you to think that something will happen to Setsuko, or something similar will occur in a later scene.
The film is the type that looks lighthearted but is actually more serious, similar to films like Arthur (the version with Russell Brand) and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. As the film progresses, it gets darker and darker, with comedy noticeably absent in the second half.
Everyone who watches Oh Lucy!, no matter who you are, will learn something about American and Japanese culture. In one scene, when Setsuko, Ayako, and John are in a diner and ordering lunch, Setsuko calls French fries “potato fry.” At another point, John tells Setsuko that another student in his class named Takeshi (Koji Yakusho) wanted to learn English because he wanted to watch American films without reading the subtitles. We also see the formalities of an office in Japan and the inside of a maid café. If you have not seen a maid café before, you will see why they are interesting when you watch the moive.
The English class scenes show Americans as more relaxed, while the Japanese appear more formal. We see funny moments from Terajima and Hartnett, with a lot of hugs. Josh Hartnett has not been in a film in a very long time, but he is great in this film, and perhaps he will be in many other movies again.
While Oh Lucy! talks about a serious topic, it also shows cultures interacting with each other. The screenings of the film in the Vancity Theater were almost sold out, so they might add additional screenings. If they do, this is a film worth watching, although if you are not comfortable seeing a film about suicide, perhaps avoid this one.