Nobuhiro Yamashita’s coming of age film Linda Linda Linda (2005) is the most euphoric film that I have seen in a long time. Usually a film that can be described as “uplifting” has a plastic veneer to it. Linda Linda Linda, on the other hand, feels casually observed; it’s like a hundred little intimate moments that have been recorded and aligned to give a realistic sense of place and character to the narrative.
Nobuhiro Yamashita’s framing is direct and almost always static. There are minimal cuts in a scene, showing a preference for long takes and the behaviorism that such a device records so well. There is rarely ever a traditional narrative link between one scene and the next. The beats don’t look like they matter to Nobuhiro Yamashita which is why the film feels organic rather than staged.
Peppered throughout is footage shot by what are essentially background characters. This footage, recorded onto DV tape, documents students’ reactions to their school’s cultural festival. There are so many good jokes in these moments clearly aimed at anyone who ever went to film school. It also works to give a wider context to the primary plot without being expository.
The real coup is having the band Paranmaum(Bae Doona, Aki Maeda, Yuu Kashii, and Shiori Sekine) in the lead roles of four school girls who form a band just three days before a gig at their school’s festival. There are some projects, and Linda Linda Linda is certainly one of them, where non-actors are preferable to trained actors. Not one of their gestures or mannerisms feels manufactured or rehearsed. There is a spontaneity to every thing these four women do on screen that is only amplified by their natural chemistry.
Linda Linda Linda is light hearted while being completely committed to a “realistic” vision of adolescence. Maybe it’s the lack of overtly “feel good” moments and drippy sentiment. It doesn’t really matter. Watching Linda Linda Linda is an experience that effects the viewer for the better.