.:: S T O R Y ::.
Lily Chou-Chou is a pop star. The Bjork-like songbird's melancholic music offers an escape for a troubled teen crumbling under the weight of peer pressure. And why not? Lily, after all, was born at the exact moment that Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon ? she knows a thing or two about transcending pain. Or so Yuichi (Hayato Ichihara) ? the sad boy at the heart of Shunji Iwai's epic All About Lily Chou-Chou ? believes, and he desperately clutches onto her music as his own life falls to pieces. Yuichi is the Web master for a site called "Liliphilia," where he and Lily's other obsessive fans exchange information and declarations of allegiance to their idol. Yuichi has even made a special friend through the bulletin board, a fellow Lily-lover he knows only as "Blue Cat." They even plan to meet soon at Lily's next concert.
That is, providing Yuichi makes it that far. Lately the lad, a slight 14-year-old who looks much younger, knows nothing but trouble. At home, he's in hot water after being caught shoplifting one of Lily's CDs. School is even worse. Once upon a time, he was friends with rich kid Hoshino (Shugo Oshinari) ? it was Hoshino, in fact, who turned him on to Lily. But Hoshino's family has recently hit the skids, and Hoshino himself has never been the same since nearly drowning the previous summer. Once the school brain, Hoshino is now the head bully ? he pimps out the girls, encourages vandalism and theft, and decides who is "in" and who is "out." To Yuichi's peril, he is most definitely out, with nowhere to turn as he and his classmates suffer rape, suicide, and beatings.
In short, this is Rebel Without a Cause for the cyber-generation ? but a Rebel where Sal Mineo's panicked Plato would be the hero instead of the cooler James Dean. At 146 minutes, Lily Chou-Chou is overlong, and Iwai spends far too much time on Yuichi's Internet chats, which tend toward fatuous declarations and minutiae only a Lily-fanatic could relish. But this is also an uncommonly beautiful film, with the bucolic rice fields where Yuichi hides providing a heartbreaking contrast to the violence that is smothering his spirit.
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