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Thursday, April 26, 2018, 19:00 - 21:30

Culture-clashing comedy meets poignant journey of self-discovery in this festival favorite

Sneak Preview Screening: "OH LUCY!" followed by a Q&A with
director Atsuko Hirayanagi and star Shinobu Terajima

Thursday, April 26 at 7:00 pm04262018 Oh Lucy 356p

In Japanese and English with English subtitles
Japan/ USA, 2017 95 minutes

Director: Atsuko Hirayanagi
Writers: Atsuko Hirayanagi, Boris Frumin
Producers: Han West, Yukie Kito, Jessical Elbaum, Atsuko Hirayanagi
Starring: Shinobu Terajima, Kaho Minami, Shioli Kutsuna,
Koji Yakusho, Josh Hartnett
Film courtesy of Phantom Films            

Chain-smoking OL Sestuko (Terajima) is obviously stuck in a rut, both professionally and in her seemingly non-existent personal life. En route to work one morning, a man on her crowded platform whispers "Goodbye" in her ear before leaping in front of the train. If that's not enough to shake her up, a fellow OL is retiring, and she may be the closest thing to an office ally that Setsuko has. When her niece Mika (Kutsuna) begs her to fill in at her pricey English classes (reimbursing her directly for the fees), it seems to be just the diversion Setsuko needs.

Her unorthodox instructor, John (Hartnett), greets her with a warm embrace - "I'm a hugger, what can I say?" - has her don a curly blonde wig and pick her new name out of a box. Setsuko becomes "Lucy", and is encouraged to be "lazy and relaxed" when she speaks American English (a ping pong ball apparently helps). The new identity unleashes her inner she-vamp, empowering her to say all the things she's pent up, some of which she instantly regrets. But it also rekindles the flames of hope in her heart. She's immediately smitten with John, and thus aggravated when the red-wigged, widowed "Tom" (Yakusho), joins the class and she no longer has the teacher's hugs all to herself.

Then John suddenly disappears and Setsuko, nearly inconsolable, discovers that he's left for Southern California with Mika. Desperate to see him again, she takes off in hot pursuit with her estranged sister, Ayako (Minami), in tow. Their first surprise, after realizing that California isn't all beaches and glorious sunsets, is that John is no longer the Charisma Man he was in Tokyo, and Mika has fled. They coerce him into chauffeuring their search for her, and Setsuko/ Lucy seizes one last chance at midlife liberation.

A poignant character study that deep-dives into the lonely life of a protagonist whose type is rarely depicted on screen, "Oh Lucy!" is an off-kilter culture-clash comedy and eventually, a deeply moving drama, with a beautifully calibrated performance from Terajima (and an unforgettable late-film turn from Yakusho). At the Independent Spirit Awards earlier this year, Terajima was nominated for Best Actress, and the film for Best First Feature.

Join us for this sneak preview of "Oh Lucy!" ahead of its Japanese release on April 28.

For more (in Japanese):

SHINOBU TERAJIMA is one of Japan's most critically acclaimed actresses, known for innumerable roles with leading directors and fearless performances in daring work. She has won numerous awards around the world, for both film and theater, including a Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival for her performance in "Caterpillar," Best Actress at the Japan Academy Awards for her performance in "Akame 48 Waterfalls," and most recently, an Independent Spirit Awards nomination for Best Actress for "Oh Lucy!" Other highlight's of her lengthy resume include "Vibrator" (2003), "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles" (2006), "Japan's Tragedy" (2013), "R100" (2013), "The Shell Collector" (2016), and will soon be seen in "Nomitori Samurai."

Director ATSUKO HIRAYANAGI was raised in Japan, went to the US as a high-school exchange student and is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Her second-year project, "Mo Ikkai," won the Grand Prix at the 2012 Short Shorts Film Festival in Asia, and her thesis short, "Oh Lucy!" won more than 35 awards around the globe, including prizes at the Cannes, Sundance, Toronto and SXSW film festivals. She is making her feature debut with the longer "Oh Lucy!", which received the 2016 Sundance / NHK Award during development.

Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.

- Karen Severns, Film Committee

04262018 Oh Lucy! 290p.jpg
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