Movie Review: Linda Linda Linda (2005)

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I wish I’d been cool enough to have a band in high school. But no, instead I was too busy reading British literature and feeling sorry for myself. Luckily I can live vicariously through the enterprising young women in Linda Linda Linda, a delightful Japanese comedy about a Korean student named Son (Doona Bae) who is unceremoniously dragged into an all-girl rock band. Despite her so-so grasp of the language, she quickly learns the Japanese lyrics to cover songs of 80s punks The Blue Hearts, while getting to know her bandmates Kyoko (the sweet one), Kei (the intimidating one), and Nozomi (the quiet one). Their school is hosting some sort of intercultural fair, which I guess means no one ever has class? But no one ever leaves? So they have to learn the songs and practice nonstop for a few days until the big finale rock show. Of course, they all have their own personal stuff happening but hopefully they can get their shit together in time. Yeah.

This is the type of movie that doesn’t really have much story, per se. These high school girls are in a band, they have to learn some songs, then they have to perform them. One of them got in a fight with a former band member, it’s kind of mysterious and never really explained. The new singer possibly has Asperger’s, and she’s adorable and enthusiastic and will try hard to not mess it up for her newfound friends. There’s a bit of romance thrown in here and there, but no mention of parents or family and little time spent away from school. It’s really just about these girls and their developing relationship with one another, interspersed with frequent awesome musical sequences. It’s a simple film, but a wholly enjoyable one.

The cast is great, with several supporting members hailing from actual Japanese bands. I was happy to see Doona Bae, whom I’d only known from Korean movies; she is hilariously offbeat here and I was very sympathetic to her language problems. I also enjoyed Aki Maeda as the smiley drummer with good hair. And as I understand it, all of the actors played their own instruments/did their own vocals, which led to the release of an EP by the fake band in the film. Which I totally got the day after seeing it, because guess what? The music is so freaking catchy! I was unfamiliar with The Blue Hearts but now I definitely want to get into their music. The girls’ covers of their songs are energetic and fun, and I cannot stop singing the title track.

Cool ladies, cool tunes, cool movie! Yay!

4/5

Pair This Movie With: I had heard this compared to Kamikaze Girls, which I can see as a good pairing even if that’s a much funnier, weirder film. I actually think Linda Linda Linda would go well with El Calentito, a fun Spanish flick about an all-girl punk band in the 80s and the shy schoolgirl who joins them.

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