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Schoolgirl charm rocks sweetly funny 'Linda'

Doona Bae fronts a punk quartet that has three days to prepare for a high school spring rock show in "Linda Linda Linda." (VIZ PICTURES)

Don't let the lack of punctuation fool you. "Linda Linda Linda" is a peachy two-hour delight that ends with a flurry of exclamation points. If the Beatles were teen girls starring in a John Hughes picture made with a distinctly Japanese attention to the comedy of everyday life, the movie showcasing it all would go something like this.

The members of an all-girl punk quartet have about three days to learn a number for the spring rock show at their high school. The new lead singer, Son (Doona Bae ), is a solemn Korean exchange student whose face contains limitless ways to touch you with its sleepiness. The group's chosen song is a fuzzy firecracker called "Linda Linda," an '80s classic (in Japan) by the Japanese group the Blue Hearts. I'm still singing it.

Between rehearsals, there are crepe-making events, disclosed crushes, catnaps, power naps, and blatant oversleeping. As directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita , the sluggish haze between extracurricular activities is exquisitely captured and framed, then patiently edited. Every shot feels like a gift.

Not many directors can pluck comedy seemingly out of thin air with such effortlessness, but the films of the Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki come to mind. Absentmindedness, accidents, and wholesale awkward interactions are genuinely funny. The sight gags are few but those are plum, too. One evening, while the drummer , Kyoko (Aki Maeda), takes a phone call from a boy from school, her brother grunts hard behind her, doing some of the sorriest push - ups this side of "Celebrity Fit Club." If that doesn't sound funny, you simply have to be there.

Yu Kashii plays Kei, the stoic guitarist, and Shiori Sekine plays Nozumi, the woozy bassist. The bond among the girls is the heart of the movie , along with their individual temperaments. The Beatles reference was not insincere. "Linda Linda Linda" is "A Hard Day's Night" played at 33 rpm -- a speed ideally suited for taking in the faces and the uniforms and the blissful lack of urgency.

Wesley Morris can be reached at For more on movies, go to