All About Lily Chou-Chou review

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Originally written as an interactive internet novel, director Shunji Iwai's melancholic mosaic of maudlin Japanese teendom probably should have stayed that way. For all its dreamy visual beauty, it's frustratingly diffuse and airy.

The fractured flashbacks of the plot revolve around a group of kids in a post-industrial landscape, strung out on confusing desires, random bouts of violence, petty crime and internet chat-group worship of the titular Lily a dripping tap of a singer. Tragic events unfurl - natch - which Iwai shoots in a series of hauntingly composed tableaux to a hypnotic soundtrack.

But it's all too ethereal for its own good, recalling Truffaut's The 400 Blows, but never matching its poignancy and lyricism. In the end it mistakes portentous for deep. Come the close, you've learned next to nowt about the teens, never mind why anyone would want to listen to Lily's sub-Cocteau Twins warblings. Looks lovely, but it's all a bit listless and limp.

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