Ten years after Linda Linda Linda, which was also presented at Udine's Far East Film Festival in 2005, director Nobuhiro Yamashita returns to the fore with La La La at Rock Bottom. This time around, instead of a school's light music club, it's the vicissitude of Shigeo, an ex-convict, that acts as a backdrop to this ode to j-music.
Fresh out of jail, Shigeo is waylaid, beaten up and dumped on the streets of Osaka, waking up the morning after with total amnesia. Destiny, however, has in store for him a chance meeting with the band Akainu and their manager, Kasumi. Finding himself in the middle of the band's live concert, he steals the limelight from the singer by improvising over Furui Nikki, a famous hit by Wada Akiko (和田 アキ子 – 古い日記, 1974), before fainting and falling to the ground.
From then on Kasumi (played by young actress Nakaido Fumi 二階堂 ふみ ) takes care of Shigeo, trying to help him recover his memory while, at the same time, kickstarting his singing career under the Pooch nickname.
The true protagonist of the film is the music: Shigeo/Pooch is played by Shibutani Subaru (渋谷すばる) , idol and singer of Kanjani Eight; he embarked in a successful partnership with director Yamashita, developing the singing and acting in tandem. Excellent is also the performance of the members of Akainu, an actual band from Osaka.
The streets of Osaka (city where the director also studied) are also actors of sorts in the film, including the famous venue Misono Universe, where the final concert scene takes place and the film's title comes from – although the title was changed in La La La at Rock Bottom for the international release.
The film's pace is excellent: Shigeo's doubts whether to return to his criminal life, or to continue his singing career (as Pooch, who now lives with Kasumi in a daily blend of home living and music) alternate with exhilarating scenes so typical of Japanese comedy cinema. One example: the many jokes at the expenses of Akainu's previous singer, who ends up injured and, once replaced by Pooch, attempts suicide by diving off the stage during the band's final concert.
If you love japanese music (the real one) you will be pleasantly surprised by this film. If you're not, you'll like it anyway.