Story: A music group of girls need to learn to play a song before the school festival.
What distinguishes Nobuhiro Yamashita’s Linda Linda Linda from the crowd is a refreshing modesty. Rather than the usual underdog struggle against the odds culminating School of Rock style in the obligatory spectacular stage show and a fat recording contract, Linda Linda Linda’s story revolves around four highschool girls for whom learning how to play a single song in time for the school festival is the ultimate challenge.
Known for his deadpan comic minimalism, director Yamashita is an expert at turning the uneventful into the resonant. His previous films Hazy Life (Donten Seikatsu, 1999), No One’s Ark and Ramblers all featured aimless youth with nothing better to do than walk or sit around. Plot was never a part of the young director’s vocabulary, but the films were all the more memorable for its absence. Compared to these films, Linda Linda Linda is a move toward a more conventional narrative, but only slightly. It sees Yamashita shaking off the Aki Kaurismäki comparisons, but holding on firmly to his own peculiar idiosyncracies, resulting in a film that is refreshing both for the genre and for the director.
With all-girl Japanese rock groups like The 188.8.131.52’s, Shonen Knife and Melt Banana being regulars on club stages around the world, Linda Linda Linda arrives at exactly the right time for an attempt to conquer foreign audiences. True, to get full enjoyment out of the film it helps to know who The Blue Hearts are, but even for those entirely unfamiliar with the history of Japanese rock music, this film’s infectious, three-chord charm will prove hard to resist. And that former Smashing Pumpkin James Iha provides the score won’t hurt its international appeal either. (Midnight Eye)
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