All About Lily Chou-Chou is a deranged jigsaw tale about a subservient teenage Japanese boy who is bullied and disoriented in school, and finds solace only in the music of the fictional Lily Chou-Chou.We never learn anything about her except for faux chatroom conversations concerning her Ether (who has it — Björk, the Beatles — who doesn’t — next to no one else), where “Lilyholics” can gather to revel in their fanfaronade of “Lilyphilia.” (Suggested better title: All About Lily Who-Who.) The gimmick of using chats to develop much of the internal workings of the protagonist is an interesting idea, but it is by far over-employed, to a point of nimiety, much like what director Shunji Iwai does with the rest of his movie. A two-and-a-half-hour movie is a long time to be reading subtitles, and then to additionally bog oneself down with reading the chat conversations is mighty tiresome. Lily Chou-Chou is terribly strung together, with rough and jagged segues that are as directionless and maundering as the transitions are confusing. Iwai has lots of ideas and episodes that add up to nothing and lead nowhere, especially when put together and in no orderly fashion. There are any number of appropriate ending places and ending points that would have left some form of clarity in the termination, but it drags on and on to incessantly piledrive the parergies into the ground, before the actual end numbingly arrives. I guess that’s what happens when you turn an Internet project into a feature-length movie. Iwai is too fascinated by modern technology (the hand-held camera in Okinawa and that whole chapter are hair-pullingly vexatious and irksome) and how to fit it within the confinelessness of his homage and obsession rather than using it in an effective way. His actors frequently look just as lost, confused and distressed by the mess of affairs. A serious-minded social commentary on teenagers in Japan would have overcome the desire for such modernities and told the important story of the characters’ tribulations. Iwai ends up tackling next-door to nothing.
With Hayato Ichihara, Ayumi Ito, Shugo Oshinari and Yu Aoi.[Not to be bothered with.]