Review: Tokyo woman finds herself in offbeat ‘Oh Lucy!’
Drama stars Shinobu Terajima as a middle age office worker who goes on an unlikely adventure
A lonely Japanese office worker finds adventure and awakens her inner spirit in the compelling oddball drama “Oh Lucy!”
Shinobu Terajima plays Setsuko, a drone in a drab, generic Tokyo office building. As the movie opens, the latest in a rash of subway suicides unfolds right before her eyes. It shakes something within her, and she decides to start living her life.
Her niece, Mika (Shiori Kutsuna) tells her about a one-on-one class where she can learn English. Setsuko enrolls and falls for her teacher, John (Josh Hartnett in his best role in years), an American with an easygoing charm who encourages long, deep hugs with his students. In class, Setsuko dons a blonde wig and becomes Lucy. It’s the outlet she needs for herself.
When John suddenly leaves Japan and heads back to America — with Mika, no less — Setsuko and her sister, Ayako (Kaho Minami) travel to California to find them. There, Setsuko acts on instinct and lives recklessly for the first time in her life, and learns several valuable lessons in the process.
Writer-director Atsuko Hirayanagi, expanding on her own 2014 short film, finds richness in the soul of Setsuko, and Terajima brings the character to vivid life. This isn’t the typical middle-age awakening story; there’s little that’s typical about “Oh Lucy!” But it touches on universal feelings of love, loss and loneliness, and watching as a spectator as one’s own life passes by.
Nothing here is wrapped up with a red ribbon the way it would be in an American film, studio made or otherwise. “Oh Lucy!” has the guts to leave things messy and unkempt, just like life.
Not rated for sexual situations, drug use
Running time: 95 minutes