- All About Lily Chou-Chou
All About Lily Chou-Chou
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Shunji Iwai Produced by Koko Maeda Written by Shunji Iwai Starring Hayato Ichihara
Cinematography Noboru Shinoda Editing by Yoshiharu Nakagami Distributed by Rockwell Eyes Release date(s) 2001 Running time 146 min Language Japanese
All About Lily Chou-Chou (リリイ・シュシュのすべて Rirī Shushu no Subete ) is a 2001 Japanese film written and directed by Shunji Iwai. The film portrays the rough lives of high school children in Japan, and centres around the music of a fictional singer Lily Chou-Chou.
All About Lily Chou-Chou follows two boys, Shuusuke Hoshino and Yuichi Hasumi, from the start of junior high school when they first meet, and into second grade. The film has a discontinuous storyline, starting midway through the story, just after the second term of junior high school begins, then flashes back to the first term and summer vacation, and then skips back to the present.
In elementary school, Hoshino was one of the best students in school, but was picked on by his classmates. Hoshino and Hasumi meet and become friends when they join the kendo club, and Hoshino invites Hasumi to stay over at his house. Hoshino's family is wealthy in comparison to Hasumi's family. Hasumi mistakes Hoshino's attractive young mother for his sister.
The kendo club summer camp training is tough, and Hoshino, Hasumi and some other first-grade boys decide to take a trip to Okinawa. Once there, Hoshino has a traumatic near-death experience and his personality changes from good-natured to dangerous and manipulative. Back at school in September for second term, he takes his place as class bully and shows his newfound power by ruining the lives of his classmates. An alternative voice, that of the character Sumika Kanzaki, attributes Hoshino's personality change to the collapse of his family's business and his parent's divorce; this matches several scenes connecting the decline of Hoshino – who has had to change his name – to divorce.
Hasumi, the confused and shy former friend of Hoshino, finds himself sucked into his now-tormentor's gang. He is ridiculed and coerced into doing Hoshino's dirty work, and finds solace only in the ethereal music Lily Chou-Chou makes, and acting as web editor for his fan website. Things become far worse for everyone when Hasumi is assigned to supervising Shiori Tsuda, whom Hoshino has blackmailed into enjo kōsai, and another girl is raped by Hoshino's lackeys after unwittingly offending the school's girl gang. The whole quagmire comes to a head when Hasumi heads to Tokyo to see a Lily Chou-Chou concert, and encounters the last person he thought would be there.
The story of Hoshino and Hasumi is paralleled by messages posted to a Lily Chou-Chou Internet message board which are displayed on screen. Until the meeting at the concert, it is left up to the viewer to figure out which characters in the story are posting under what names.
On April 1, 2000, Shunji Iwai went live with his internet novel, in the form of a website called Lilyholic, where he posted messages as several characters on the BBS. Readers of the novel were free to post alongside Iwai's characters and interact with each other, indeed this BBS is where some of the content from the movie comes from. After the main incident in the novel took place, posting was closed and the second phase of the novel started, about the lives of 14 year olds. (The novel is available on CD-ROM, but only in Japanese.)
Production on the film began in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture on August 13, 2000 and ended on November 28, 2000. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2001, and opened in Japan on October 6, 2001.
Iwai was the first Japanese director to use the, at the time, completely new digital video camera, the "24 Progressive" to shoot the film.
It is thought that Iwai was inspired to shoot in digital by his friend, the anime and live-action film director Hideaki Anno, who shot his own digital film entitled Love & Pop, in 1998. Anno later cast Iwai as the lead in his second live-action film, Shiki-Jitsu.
The soundtrack of Lily Chou-Chou was written and arranged by Takeshi Kobayashi, with vocals by the singer Salyu. It features a number of songs that are sung by the fictional rock star Lily Chou-Chou in the film. The soundtrack also makes heavy use of the classical music of Claude Debussy.
- Shugo Oshinari as Shusuke Hoshino (星野修介 Hoshino Shusuke), the best student in school who, after a trip to Okinawa, becomes a bully.
- Hayato Ichihara as Yuichi Hasumi (蓮見雄一 Hasumi Yūichi), Hoshino's former friend who becomes a reluctant member of his gang and will later on be bullied by Hoshino. Yuichi is the leading character in the movie. He admins an online Lily Chou-Chou BBS and is a great fan of the singer.
- Ayumi Ito as Yoko Kuno (久野陽子 Kuno Yōko), a classmate of Yuichi's. A brilliant pianist, she is the envy of a clique of powerful girls, and therefore is also bullied. She is raped by Hoshino's gang and cuts off her hair as a way of avoiding Shiori Tsuda's fate.
- Yû Aoi as Shiori Tsuda (津田詩織 Tsuda Shiori), a classmate of Yuichi who gets blackmailed into enjo kōsai by Hoshino. Yuichi befriends her later on, and introduces her to Lily's music.
- Yuki Ito as Kamino, one of the boys in the blue school uniforms at the train station when Kuno is introduced.
- Izumi Inamori as Izumi Hoshino (星野いずみ Hoshino Izumi), Hoshino's mother. It is unknown if she is single. She loves her son very much and welcomes Yuichi with open arms during a junior high sleepover at the Hoshino household. A classmate of Yuichi suggests that this is done to ensure that Yuichi will enjoy being Hoshino's friend.
- Salyu as Lily Chou-Chou, the enigmatic and ethereal singer that Yuichi, Tsuda and others in the film are fans of. She is hardly seen in the film, except on a video screen near the story's end, but her music is heard throughout the movie. She is said by her fans to channel what is called "the Ether", which is not unlike the invisible substance once thought by ancient philosophers to be the field that light travels through. This "ether" can be heard in the calm, melancholy songs she sings.
- Quentin Tarantino used the song "Kaifuku Suru Kizu (Wounds that heal)" from the Lily Chou-Chou soundtrack in Kill Bill, in the scene where the Bride views Hattori Hanzo's sword collection.
- The idea of Lily Chou-Chou the rock star was inspired by Faye Wong.
- Extras at the concert scene were given an index card with extremely detailed information as to the thought process they should be going through during filming. There were hundreds of extras, partly made up of fans of the internet novel who had BBS meet ups during the day. Posters from the BBS are visible in the background of this scene and can be spotted by watching for clues from their posts.
- Ayumi Ito spent weeks training on the piano in order to do all of her scenes without a double. She became so obsessed with Debussy's "Arabesque No. 1" that she made it her cell phone ringtone.
- Originally, in the internet novel, Yuichi and Hoshino belong to the track team, not the kendo team.
- Debussy wrote his famous Children's Corner Suite (1909) for his beloved daughter whom he nicknamed Chou-chou.
- This movie made an impact and is the third highest grossing local film of 2001 in Japan (next to Visitor Q and Spirited Away). This is the highest grossing film made by Shunji Iwai, beating his previous work, Love Letter (1995).
- The movie's original runtime was 157 minutes, but the original print of the 157 minute version no longer exists because it was burned. The extra 11 minutes was composed of extra and intense footages of the rape scene, a scene with Yuichi in the beach (similar to Hoshino's drowning scene) and an extended funeral scene.
Awards and nominations
- 2002 Berlin International Film Festival – Panorama (Shunji Iwai)
- 2002 6th Shanghai International Film Festival – Best Music (Takeshi Kobayashi) and Special Jury Award (Shunji Iwai)
Box office totals
- Budget:¥150, 000, 000 ($1,249,656)
- Japan: ¥3, 026, 188, 000 ($25,211,298)
- Opening Week Gross: ¥514, 775, 000 ($4,288,612)
- Date Released: October 6, 2001
- In release: 15.7 weeks
- USA: $26,485 (¥3,179,328)
- Japan: ¥810,340,000 ($6,750,436)
- Official site
- All About Lily Chou-Chou at the Internet Movie Database
- (Japanese) Salyu's official site
- Fan site 'I Love Lily Chou-Chou'
- "リリィ・シュシュのすべて (Rirī Shushu no Subete)" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/2001/dy002720.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- "An Unreal Star Unleashes Real Teenagers' Brutality" -(New York Times review)
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Other The Cinema of Shunji Iwai 1990s
Unknown Child · The Man Who Came to Kill · Ghost Soup · Maria · A Tin of Crab Meat · A Summer Solstice Story · Omelette · Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? · Fried Dragon Fish · The Snow King · Undo · Lunatic Love · Love Letter · Picnic · Swallowtail Butterfly · Moon Riders: Knit Cap Man · Takako Matsu · April Story
2000s Actor Producer
Rainbow Song · Halfway · Bandage
The Kids Who Wanted to View Fireworks from Another Perspective · 30 days with the Japanese National Football Team · The Kon Ichikawa Story
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