Tuesday, October 21, 2008

[TIFF 2008 Review] Beautiful Crazy (乱青春) (International Premiere)


For a festival of this magnitude, if you find joy in almost every film watched, then you must be really lucky. It's always a hit and miss for me, and unfortunately, Beautiful Crazy fell into the latter category, despite its modest budget looking glorious on screen, and I still have to accept the fact that not all films have to come with a structured narrative, as this one seemed akin to flipping through a photo album of fleeting images on screen, with neither room nor clues to apply some logic to stitch the disparate scenes together, presented in a non-linear timeline.

“Beautiful Crazy” might not automatically cue you in as to what to expect from the movie though it might be apt to describe the state of mind of its 3 female protagonists Angel (Angel Yao), Xiao-Bu (Amiya Lee) and Amy (Liao Chien-hui), but its Chinese title literally translates into “Messy Youth”, which provides a far better expectation. Indeed the youths featured in this movie are really quite messed up, each having their own personal problems which they are unable to solve on their own, or be able to obtain proper advise on how to deal with them. They live quite a decadent lifestyle free from the pressures of the school system, and spend time frolicking in beds of sunflowers, or dancing away in abandoned ruins.

The camera definitely loves these girls, from the way it lingers along their limbs, incorporating some dream like movement in its photography frequently set against a gritty environment and backdrop. And that's the strong point in the movie, with its cinematography in stark black and white, full coloured, or strained, and looking very beautiful. But this technique was chosen as a means to distinguish between the passage of time, and here's where the crazy part comes in, as it goes back and forth without much warning, sometimes for scenes lasting just a few seconds, while others some considerable dragged out minutes, such as a blow by blow oral account (for the lack of a better phrase) where one kiss-and-tells the other of her virgin sexual encounter.

Repetition also get used very liberally, and it hammers home some deja-vu moments, while expanding on some others which provide a little more suggestion in peek-a-boo fashion as to what the scene is about. As advised by director Lee Chi Yuarn, this is a movie about feelings, rather than logic, but the only vibes I'm getting from the movie was a sense of frustration, and disconnect, looking at the way Beautiful Crazy was presented.

There's nothing much to show for in its convoluted story, if one exists at all, as it has little snippets of small plots such as their relationships with their fathers, romantic relationships where one of them sleeps with the other's boyfriend, and also a hint of pseudo-lesbianism which could probably provide this film some legs in the GLBT festivals.

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