An imaginary pop goddess who pays homage to Debussy, Lily Chou-Chou was apparently conceived after writer/director Iwai saw HK starlet Faye Wong in concert. As the film began as an Internet novel, it's fitting that the first lines aren't uttered, but blossom onscreen as chat room text. Lily's music provides the only beauty in the life of teenage Yuichi (Ichihara). Meanwhile, the only candid communication here takes place online between self-professed 'Lilyholics', where Yuichi connects anonymously with another obsessive. We learn through flashbacks, including a nightmarish holiday video, how Yuichi's high school existence has bleakened, and that his former best friend Hoshino (Oshinari) has transformed into a sadistic ringleader and classroom pimp. If the bullying scenes make for uneasy viewing, there's also subtlety in the way Iwai intensifies their claustrophobia with the film's beautifully lit rural setting. As for Lily Chou-Chou, we see the exotic gloss of her image, hear about her inspirational 'ether', and listen to her wispy Björk-styled tones, but she remains on an otherworldly pedestal for both viewer and protagonist. Troubling and touching.