EXCLUSIVE: After premiering her short Oh Lucy! three years ago at Cannes winning the Cinefoundation Selection, Japanese director Atsuko Hirayanagi is back on the Croisette with the feature-length version of the off-beat romantic comedy, premiering in Critics Week this morning.
Oh Lucy! tells the story of shy middle-aged office worker Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima). In order to change-up her life, she enrolls in an English class at a Tokyo language center, where she meets a hunky American instructor (Josh Hartnett). However, step aside Professor Henry Higgins, because when it comes to transforming a woman, Hartnett’s guy employs an avant garde means as seen in the clip above.
Hirayanagi describes the scene, “Unbeknownst to him, John, an American English teacher, is playing with fire in this scene. By giving Setsuko a new name and persona, Lucy, he’s opening up a floodgate of old and new emotions in this seemingly demure and subdued ‘office lady’…”. After John disappears, Lucy nee Setsuko embarks on a journey with her sister to find him, and winds up on the wrong side of Los Angeles.
Hirayanagi, a native of Japan, now lives in San Francisco and based Oh Lucy! off her U.S. study abroad experiences which also yielded two different personalities within the director. Following its premiere in Cannes, Hirayanagi’s short won the Jury Prize for International Fiction at Sundance two years ago. The feature length script for Oh Lucy! was the recipient of the Sundance Institute/NHK Award, with NHK providing both funding and co-production of the film. At the end of 2016, Hirayanagi shot Oh Lucy! in Tokyo and Los Angeles with a different cast from the short. In total, the short played at more than 20 festivals around the globe including Toronto and SXSW.
and Will Ferrell
, who have a knack for discovering and catapulting fresh comedic talent, serve as EPs on Oh Lucy!
with their Gloria Sanchez female-focused label led by Jessica Elbaum producing. If you remember, McKay and Ferrell assisted in launching the careers of Danny McBride, Jody Hill and Ben Best by getting Paramount Vantage to acquire their $70K comedy The Foot Fist Way
before it hit Sundance 11 years ago.
Shot between Tokyo and Los Angeles at the end of 2016, Oh Lucy! is also produced by Matchgirl Pictures and Han West’s Meridian Content. Elle Driver has foreign sales and United Talent Agency is handling domestic.