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Girlfriend Boyfriend

Monday 11 March 2013, by Jacques Breen

Charting the relationship of three close friends whilst set to the backdrop of a changing political climate in Taiwan. This Golden Horse Award winning drama directed by Ya-Che Yang, succeeds at drawing the viewer into the intimate relationship between these three protagonists, ably performed by Hsiao-chuan Chang (Liam), Gwei Lun-Mei (Mabel) and Rhydian Vaughan (Aaron). Ya-Che Yang’s creative use of extreme close-ups drags the viewer into the personal world space of each of the characters, whilst the driving kaleidoscopic soundtrack carries the viewer through the decades of Taiwan’s democratic reform.

The film’s format of skipping ahead every decade, whilst good in theory, leaves much to be desired in execution. Whilst ostensibly the film covers the political change of Taiwan, the core of the film is the relationship between the three friends. And in each of the decades, just as the drama is about to reach a climax, the film will suddenly skip forward several years, taking away the catharsis and bringing the viewer back to the start of a ’new’ story. The film’s uplifting and humorous first segment paves way for a tragic second and third installment, as the protagonists’ own neurosis and failings are exacerbated by societal pressures. The whole tone and pacing of the film shifts and leaves the viewer having to re-adjust their expectation of where the film is going. And it’s a long film.

Despite it’s failings, this stylish film is impossible to dislike. It’s engrossing low-concept storyline, combined with engaging ’human’ characters and a bittersweet yet uplifting ending will leave you wondering what’s next from this Director who’s been hailed as the next ’Ang Lee’.

Dir: Ya-che Yang, 2012

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