with Bae Doona, Aki Maeda, Yû Kashii and Shiori Sekine
Directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita
by Michael McCarthy
Four Japanese girls in a band together are set to perform at their big high school’s festival when one of the girls gets injured and can no longer play guitar and controversy ensues. The singer wants them to find a new guitarist and continue to play the original material, but the other two girls don’t feel that would be fair to the injured girl, so instead they find a new guitarist and a new singer, a Korean girl, and decide to do a few covers of songs by a group called The Blue Hearts, the catchiest of which is “Linda, Linda, Linda.” Most of these decisions happen slowly and painstakingly, with lots of passive aggression going on in the process, as is usually the case when dealing with band politics, and especially high school band politics. That this happens to be set in Japan makes it that much more interesting in many ways, but at the same time, the struggles the girls face are all things we’ve experienced or witnessed before, so it’s all very relatable and doesn’t seem silly or far-fetched at all. With great, nuanced performances all-around, it’s a subtle little film that even casual fans of foreign and independent cinema should enjoy.