I first watched this ages ago. Then, the other day, I was going through an old hard drive when I saw it and thought “I’d like to watch that again.” Not sure why. I just did. I hadn’t thought about the film much in the past year or so, except for sometimes listening to the soundtrack.
In this film, three schoolgirls form a band for the school’s cultural festival. They choose some songs by the old Japanese punk band The Blue Hearts and a Korean class-mate as their lead singer and then it's just a case of learning the songs in time for the big day. The synopsis might have you thinking this is a peppy feel-good knockabout comedy. But the film has a quite different feel than, say, Swing Girls. There’s a strange quality to it, where it feels like time seems to hang in the air, perhaps thanks to James Iha’s fantastic soundtrack and the director Nobuhiro Yamashita’s sense of composition and pacing, which is perfect.
It has a more realistic idea about school life than most dramas. At least, I recognise it more than the usual portrayal of school as full of wisecracking students falling in and out of love. These students are awkward once they’re outside their circle of friends. Doona Bae is great as the gawky lead singer, perfectly capturing that slight lack of coordination that teenagers have, even though she was in her mid-20s when she made the film. Kashii Yuu also excels as the band leader and guitarist.
Perhaps the ending is a bit disappointing, with a fairly unlikely dash to the venue at the last minute, but then again, you’ve got to end on some kind of excitement.
In conclusion, this is a great film and I’m a little surprised that I’d forgotten how good this is, and I’m glad that I stumbled upon it again while looking for something else. Something that, by the way, I never found. There's a moral in there somewhere.