The backdrop of the film is rural Japan, a world away from the clutter and intensity of Tokyo. High rises are replaced by greenery. The breakneck pace of Tokyo diminishes to the laidback atmosphere of the countryside. The girls are isolated and sheltered, with their only access to music through old cassette tapes and karaoke.
All four girls have their own charm and respective subplots, but the real star of the film is Song, the Korean foreign exchange student who is scouted on a whim by the other girls to be the lead singer. Song is played by Korean actress Bae Du-na, who has recently appeared in the Japanese film, Air Doll (2009). Her wide-eyed empty glare matched with her awkward Japanese is at once humorous and empathetic, painting a picture of a young girl an ocean away from home, but finally beginning to settle in and make friends.
Musically, the film is an homage to the power of music and the legendary bands of yesteryear. The film takes its title from the song that the girls learn to play, “Linda Linda Linda” by legendary Japanese punk band, the Blue Hearts. The girls first rendition of the song is awful, but by the time of their performance, they are able to make their Japanese pupils go wild. Also mixed in to the film are musical interludes featuring songs like “Vagabond” by Happy End [one of the great Japanese folk songs] and a musical score by James Iha, guitarist from the Smashing Pumpkins.
Linda Linda Linda is honest, subtle, and compelling. It stands true as one of my favorite Japanese films.
The final concert scene from the film:
A Western trailer with lame English translations: