A schoolboy in small-town Japan finds respite from his dangerous life through music and the Internet in Shunji Iwai’s hypnotically plugged-in drama All About Lily Chou-Chou. Lily is a Björkish figure who elicts cultish devotion (and a busy fan website) for her lush, trancey music. And Yuichi (Hayato Ichihara) worships at her shrine as only a teenager tormented by bullies and loneliness can – a young man stunned in the crossroads between Japan’s constricting, ritualized society and its unpatrolled pop cultural and technological avenues of escape.
Iwai creates Yuichi’s world as much through disembodied moments of sight and sound as through action, building to a surprising stab of melancholy. Gorgeously shot tableaux of random adolescent brutality are interrupted by flashes of computer garble and chat-room talk, backed by ”Lily’s” music, with its blend of Debussy-like arpeggios and Enya-like sighing. The kids, meanwhile, are teens just being teens, as bred in the bones of Japan as the chicos of ”Y Tu Mamá También” are rooted in the soil of Mexico.