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漂浪青春 (2008)
Drifting Flowers

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 04/07/2009

My apologies go out to the rain-coaters out there who heard about this movie being a lesbian love story and got launched here via a Google search. Sorry, guys, Drifting Flowers doesn't involve Chingmy Yau or Asia Carrera getting all hot and bothered. It's actually a solidly-made romantic movie -- i.e., you're probably not going to be going for the Excedrin (or anything else, for that matter) half-way through it -- that happens to center on lesbians.

Drifting Flowers looks at the lives of lesbians living in Taiwan through a series of three loosely-connected stories. The first is about May, a little girl who falls in love with the accordion player, Diego (Chao Yi-Lan), who plays along with her blind sister. Next, we see the tale of Yen and Lily, a gay man and lesbian who get into a marriage to please their families, and then find each other years later while both are suffering from different ailments. Finally, the film swings back to Diego as a young woman, as she begins developing feelings for a showgirl visiting her village.

A former journalist and documentary film-maker, director Zero Chou takes a very matter-of-fact approach to the film, which gives it much more resonance with the viewer if she had gone with a more melodramatic tact. All of the characters seem rooted and realistic, and that feeling helps to give their actions more weight. Rather than being like so many romantic movies and just having interchangeable people in cookie-cutter roles, Chou's directorial choices flesh out the personas involved, especially that of Diego. Even though Chao Yi-Lan was plucked directly from a Taiwanese acting school, her performance her puts many verterans to shame.

Unfortunately, Chou seems to want to reach a bit too far. Some moments really want to echo parts of other art-house movies, Wong Kar-Wai's in particular, and the narrative suffers as a result, especially when the three narratives are somewhat clumsily drawn together at the end of the picture. One should give Chou the benefit of the doubt, as she is still a relatively new film-maker, but she should really take stock in her own abilities and story-telling, rather than trying to hook in the viewer with gimmicks. If Chou could reign that tendency in, as well as adding her own unique vision, then we might very well be taking note of Drifting Flowers as the basis of a powerful career.

[review from]

Reviewer Score: 7