Something like the Asian school years trauma zeitgeist’s Quadrophenia, Shunji Iwai’s rueful movie fashions pensive cyber-lyricism out of a new generation’s instruments of introversion: In lieu of narration, his film is counter-accented with the typed-out dialogue of fan chat rooms, forming a worshipful chorus at the altar of a fictitious Tori Amos-Enya-esque pop diva. In the foreground hums a universal adolescent dynamic: A 15-year-old, Lily-loving wallflower is forced from his hibernation by another gawky outcast who suddenly matures into a gang leader and schoolgirl pimp. The story wanders like a brooding punk, and the camera succumbs to swooping perspectives, hyper-green grasslands, dust devils, desolate consumer aisles, and spasms of home video horror. It’s a precision-made magical mystery tour, mourning the despoiling tragedies of pre-adulthood and the infuriating inadequacy of nostalgia; it might also be the loveliest film shot yet on high-def video. (You’d be hard-pressed to find rogue pixels, even though Iwai seems to have exposed the whole movie at daybreak.) The additionals are trailers, making-of docs, and even a Lily music video.
Also worth considering:
La Commare Secca (Criterion) Bernardo Bertolucci’s first feature, based on a story by Pasolini—a police investigation of a Roman prostitute’s murder prompts a series of Rashomon-style flashbacks.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 22, 2005