‘Oh Lucy!’ Goes Dark Before the Light Comes in Again

Woman Who’s Comes Apart Looks for Way Back to Normality

Never mind the seemingly innocent, bubbly air of the title, as if the film is a Japanese spin-off of I Love Lucy. It’s not. Writer-director Atsuko Hirayanagi’s comedy about a mid-life Tokyo woman who goes to California and back goes dark, and darker, before the light comes in again. One of the best and most refreshingly non-formulaic films seen at this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Oh Lucy! follows the late-breaking adventures of orderly office worker, Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima), as she is lured away from the mundanity of her life in search of renewal when her dubious American English teacher heads to the States her West-leaning niece. Terajima gives an outstanding and sometimes aptly enigmatic, hard-to-comprehend performance, creating a portrait of a woman coming apart and looking for a way back into normality that has suddenly morphed into a new set of norms.