02 November 2009

Blue Gate Crossing

Blue Gate Crossing is a beautiful Taiwanese film launched in 2002, detailing the lives of teenagers confused in love and sexuality. Directed by Yee Chin-yen, the film is hauntingly minimalist, with only three or four main characters. Yet, through its well-organized plot and subtle dialogue, the viewer is left with indescribable happiness and melancholy once the film finishes.

Even though the plot is somehow quite simple with Zhang Shihao, a handsome boy falling in love with Meng Kerou, a plain looking girl, it doesn't mean forever love and melodramatic happy ending in this film. What is interesting is that, with such a popular boy choosing to love her, Kerou is just confused and chooses to listen to her heart rather than the expectation of people around her. She wants to know whether her secret liking for a close friend, Lin Yuezhen, may be part of her homosexual tendency. With this, we start to see how complexed and realistic the film is, as Merou is in the process of growth and realizes that life may not be what it seems in cheesy teenager films. Her coming of age tale is at once painful yet liberatory: she needs to confront social prejudices but at the same time learns that she finally has a choice to grow up to be what she truly is, independent of social expectations.

However, the film does show some problems. She cannot talk about her confusion to anyone apart from Shihao and Yuezhen, the latter of whom is apparently shocked and completely ignores her advance. Shihao, however, tries to make sense of this gender confusion and learns to give her some needed space. Yet, it remains to be seen whether Merou can open up her heart to her family, especially her mom, who is also beside her.

All in all, I think the film is painful and beautiful at the same time. Perhaps it's high time Thai teenage films followed this less trodden path.

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