GF*BF 女朋友。男朋友 (2012) – Taiwan
@ China Lion Screening
Review by: Andrew Chan (Neo) FCCA
Review Date: 3 August 2012
Hong Kong Box Office Taking: HK$3,486,884
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“GF*BF” is one of those tragic life experiences disguised within layers of a coming of age kind of youthful romance, but really it is a deep and complicated emotional turmoil about three tragic souls growing up in Taiwan during the 80s period of immense social change…
“GF*BF” is an immensely difficult film to review, as it is one of those films that is impossible to dislike. It is well directed, stylishly filmed, complicatedly and originally scripted, filled with some truly wonderful and convincing performances, but somehow, it doesn’t totally go the distance. In saying so, director Yang Ya-che does a wonderful job in bringing such a complicated and layered script to life and almost pulled it off convincingly. In fact, there are times when I was almost overwhelmed by the volume of feelings and emotions on display, but somehow the film lacks a resonance emotional connection with the audience that could have propel the film to reach its lofty ambitions. Not unlike 2006’s Taiwanese youth romance “Eternal Summer” (also starring lead actor Joseph Chang), the film deals with similar issues and situated during a testing period of time in Taiwan and for youth growing up in general.
In many ways the film attempts to say too much, striving to be far too complex and by the end of it, the film itself is caught within its own web. There is just so much potential that director Yang could’ve explored, but somehow fails to fully capitalize on it. In fact, some scenes are so powerful and notable, namely the intense confrontation scene at the karaoke room, the simple good bye gesture from Gwei Lun Mei looking on by the bedroom window and the brilliant scene at the airport near the end. At times, the quality from these scenes feels as though it came from a different movie all together. However, a few scenes do not make a movie and instead of uplifting the audience to the ultimate emotional connection, the film decides to cut and chop to another time period.
Joseph Chang (“Eternal Summer”) at times is able to even outshine the always brilliant Gwei Lun Mei (“Secret”). Chang is quietly wonderful in the conflicted role and carries the film with the most difficult character on hand. Rhydian Vaughan (“Love 2012”) tries hard, but is given far too little material to work with, other than being a total jerk. In a way, Gwei Lun Mei is fast becoming the Taiwanese’s version of Zhou Xun and that’s the highest order of compliment an Asian actress can receive in this day and age. Her chemistry with Chang is undeniable and the subtle moments between the two are best left in the unspoken scenes of early tiny touches, wandering eyes and some stirring emotions. What director Yang is able to achieve is being able to create and allow the audience to focus on the two main characters (Gwei Lun Mei and Joseph Chang) that in more than one ways or another are clearly two complete mirror images of each other.
At the end of the day, Yang tries extremely hard to convince the audience about the subject matter that he is trying to say. While there are notions of life, love and friendship that one can possibly learn from or even relate, the film seems more occupy with the twists and turns of complexity into the dynamics of the trio relationships than actual cinematic experience for the audience. With that being said, “GF*BF” is easily a good film, filled with some truly wonderful performances, helmed by an ambitious director and illuminated by a difficult period of change in Taiwanese history. One just cannot help compare the similarities with 2006’s “Eternal Summer”, but of the two films, there is no doubt that Yang takes it much further. A good film that comes up short of its lofty ambitions… (Neo 2012)
I rate it 8/10