Spider Lilies 刺青 (2007) – Taiwan

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A beautiful, yet unfulfilling romance…

It seems that Taiwanese cinema is finally re-establishing in a manner of art house flicks. With Silk, Eternal Summer and now Spider Lilies, there is no question of doubt that Taiwanese directors are wonderful talents. While Spider Lilies seem rather commercial on the cover of the artwork, with the cute-eyed Raine Yang and the almost unrecognisable Isabella Leong, there is little questioning that it attracted a lot of a certain gender’s attention. Full credit must be given to Isabella, who has now taken a path to a career stepwise an inch closer to Best Actress glory, with 2005’s Isabella and now this. With that being said, Spider Lilies is certainly a beautiful film to watch and the constant cuteness of Raine is always going to add further viewing points, but the film ultimately remains slightly lacking and leaving the audience rather unfulfilling.

Director Zero is no stranger to queer movies and apparently won the Taiwanese Best Director Award for some film called Splendid Float. Here, Zero seamlessly plays the film like a normal film and making the lesbian scenes all the more natural without a tick of queerness. Perhaps it is due to the pretty face of Raine who performs well enough to be acclaimed as an underrated performance. However, the real star of the show is really Isabella. Perhaps it is due to her make up or whatever; Isabella is acted like an accomplished actress beaming with confidence. Neo is daring to say that Isabella is an outside chance to be the next Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk. At times, Neo felt as though he is watching someone else, a real TB (tomboy) and now that’s a compliment.

Still, director Zero struggles to create something more, something deeper and something more relevant. It is a shame that the built up and structure seems so promising and along with the photogenic faces, one can only wish Zero should have done more. When the film reaches its conclusion, it fails to answers most of the questions that it initially raised, which only further hampers the film.

Needless to say, the film is beautiful filmed and the lighting and use of colours are amazingly beautiful to endure. However, Spider Lilies come up rather short of its lofty ambitions and the result is an unfulfilling movie and leaving the audience wanting a lot more. Aside from these short comings, it is almost impossible to resist the moment when Raine kisses Isabella and their steamy hot sequence. Without being bias from a male perspective, the film does attempt to say something about memories. Perhaps it is true that it is human nature to remember the moments and people that they like and choose to forget moments that they do not want to remember. While, Neo can relate to the aforementioned line, the film fails to capitalize on any real issue and once again comes up falling short. Then again, any of that is unlike to deter the fans of the ultra cute – Raine Yang…

I rate it 7.5/10

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