By Christina Nicole
Oh Lucy! is mildly dark comedy and feature directorial debut from Atsuko Hirayanagi and it stars Shinobu Terajima and Josh Hartnett. It as all the hallmarks of an indie comedy: mostly muted warm tones, casual pace, no laugh out loud funny moments, has cameos from recognizable stars, and it takes place (at least in part) in southern California. Oh Lucy! is almost a drama, except it’s not dramatic at all. It’s like an Asian version of Will Ferrell’s Everything Must Go meets Hello My Name is Doris.
Setsuko is a melancholic drone, just going through the motions when she gets a call from her 20-something niece asking her to take over her English lessons so she can get her money back. It is in the English class that Setsuko transforms into Lucy. John the English teacher, played by Josh Hartnett, has his students pick a random American name from a box and put on a wig that helps them shed their Japanese identity and immerse themselves in the American way.
Lucy and John share what turns out to be a life changing hug at during her first class. Lucy is dumbfounded when John quits and runs off with Lucy’s niece Mika just before her second class. She along with her estranged sister/Mika’s overbearing set out on a hap-hazard adventure to Los Angeles in hopes to find Mika and John, in what ends up like a repressed manic episode for Setsuko.
Oh Lucy! is a mildly entertaining, but not much to write a postcard home about. The acting is good, particularly Shinobu Terajima, and the writing isn’t bad; the directing is adequate. Watching this film doesn’t feel like a waste of time, but it’s not necessarily time well spent. It gets 3 of 5 stars. Oh Lucy! opens March 16 at Midtown Art Cinema.