Iwai Shunji’s ode to the wanton cruelty of youth, alienation, technology, and the ethereal power of music is just as powerful today as it was when it burst onto the scene at the dawn of the new century, winning prizes at the 2002 Berlin and Shanghai Film Festivals. The film, which meanders through the ever-shifting relationships of high-school children who are casually cruel to one another, focuses on Yuichi (Hayato Ichihara), a shy teen who is first glimpsed standing in a rice field vibing the the titular pop star’s music while Internet chat room messages cover the screen. The withdrawn Yuichi doesn’t have many friends, but he does have his love of Lily Chou-Chou, a pop star with a cult-like group of followers who find sanctuary in her music. Yuichi’s apathy for his old friend Shusuke (Shugo Oshinari) turns to viciousness after an incident on summer vacation stirs up a slow-building storm of violence, tribalism, teenage prostitution, rape, theft, and bullying. Beautiful cinematography, remarkable performances by a young cast, and a haunting score all serve Iwai’s successful attempt at capturing the feeling of being a teenager. Presented with the support of the Japan Foundation New York.