Oh Lucy! Written and directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi
Oh Lucy! is an intriguing, outré, provocative, unusual film.
The protagonist is Setsuko Kawashima aka Lucy and she is interpreted by the talented Shinobu Terajima, a woman who has worked in a Japanese company for quite some time, indeed, enough for her to feel alienated and disabused.
When an older woman is retiring, a party is organized, she is ceremoniously thanked, with the traditional, well-known bows and expressions of eternal gratitude, on both sides, but after some drinking, the heroine takes a different, outrageous stand.
Do you know what they call you behind your back?
They are very rude you know…and then she uses some of the insulting names the people in the office call the retiring woman
She is sorry after that and when they meet later, in the subway, as they wait for different trains, coming from opposite directions, Setsuko calls the former colleague and shouts that she is sorry.
Josh Hartnett is very good in the role of John, an affable, good looking, nice English teacher that uses a method of teaching that appeals to his pupils, for he insists on charm, hugs, and a warm touch.
Setsuko Kawashima enrolls and the attractive John becomes her teacher and she is baptized and called Lucy, in one of the few funny scenes wherein bizarre exchanges may remind one of Fawlty Towers and Manuel, the Spanish waiter who is also learning English, next to a staffed moose…
I speak English…I learned it from a book…
Suddenly, Josh is no longer teaching English, just as the protagonist had become attached to him and his replacement is not keen on hugs and embraces, her colder attitude makes Lucy abandon her classes.
The heroine learns from a post card that Mika Ogawa is in California with John and she takes a very strange decision for a Japanese woman- at least on the face of it, for the image we have is that of Japanese as more serious, balanced, community oriented.
Differences in the mentality of the West versus the East would include a strong emphasis in our part of the world on the individual and his needs, liberties, rights, as opposed to the Eastern bias towards the community, which is much more important than individuals are.
People in the East are dedicated to their work to an extreme that seems to be unattainable for Westerners; the Asian culture has at its foundation the rice crops- as highlighted by Malcolm Gladwell in his masterpiece, Outliers- that require constant attention, year round care.
As for the West, the crops in these lands have necessitated work from spring to autumn, thus encouraging a more lax attitude, at least when compared with the Asian permanent toil and a different work ethic.
Lucy travels to America with her sister, Ayako, and the two women have a tense relationship, visible throughout and amusing as they take their seats in the plane, where the woman sitting between them, noticing they are together, offers to let them sit next to each other, only to see them refuse and Setsuko explain that her sister had stolen her man…
John is overwhelmed to see the two women arrive at his place, especially since Ayako’s daughter, Mika, does not live with him anymore and while they talk about it, the landlord comes for the rent and says that without $ 1,800, the flat will have to be empty.
Lucy wants to pay and another dispute ensues with her sister, who opposes the idea, but the protagonist is infatuated with her former teacher, actually, she would soon prove that, as they sit in his car, she bends over him, staritng to perform fellatio on the surprised man.
They have sex, but after that, John is trying to make it clear that he does not love Lucy and this was an event that would not happen again.
The repercussions would be felt though, for when they meet with Mika, the latter mentions John, shows a tattoo she has, only to see her aunt uncover her hand and expose the very same sign…
I had sex with John, Setsuko says…
A fight breaks out between the two relatives, with hard blows and it is so vicious actually that the face of the younger woman becomes almost unrecognizable; she is admitted to the hospital, where she can barely whisper to her aunt and John…
Get out! Get out!