ASIAN FILM - Article
11:51 - 8th December 2015, by David West

Linda Linda Linda

It is three days before the high school festival, and Kei’s band has fallen apart. Guitarist Moe has broken a finger, and singer Rinko has quit after yet another argument. That just leaves keyboard player Kei (Yu Kashii) with drummer Kyoko (Aki Maeda) and bassist Nozomi (Shiori Sekine) – but no guitarist and no singer. In desperation, Kei swaps her keyboard for a guitar and they recruit the first person they can find who’s willing to sing – Son (Doona Bae), a Korean transfer student with a distinctly shaky grasp of Japanese. And they’ve all got just three days to learn a trio of songs by The Blue Hearts before they have to perform in front of their friends, teachers and classmates.

Movies about high school kids dreaming of rock stardom often end with record deals and / or fame and fortune like Beck. But Linda Linda Linda is a much more down to earth affair. All the four girls want to do is to get through their three songs without disgracing themselves in public. But when their first rehearsal ends with everyone shaking their heads, agreeing they sound terrible, it’s clear they have a musical mountain to climb.

Director Nobuhiro Yamashita brings an international flavor to the movie with ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha providing the score (Iha later scored Momoko Ando’s drama Kakera: A Piece Of Our Lives), and Korean star Doona Bae. Her presence may reflect the popularity of the Korean Wave in the early 2000s across Asia, and Bae is terrific as Son. The scene in which a smitten schoolmate declares his love to Son is played with deadpan perfection by the actress. The joy here is in the details – like Kei dreaming about The Ramones coming to watch her gig. And when the girls finally launch into the title song, it’s impossible not to want to cheer.

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