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Girl Who Likes Girl Who Likes Boy: Taipei Teens Work It Out

Crossing guard: Guey in Blue Gate
photo: Strand Releasing
Crossing guard: Guey in Blue Gate

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Blue Gate Crossing
Written and directed by Yee Chih-yen
Strand, opens November 21, Quad

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Stringing together a daisy chain of unrequited teen crushes, the Taipei-set Blue Gate Crossing flutters between the sweetly muted and the self-consciously cute—a two-girls-and-a-guy puppy-love triangle, Hello Kitty- style. The meticulous framing and haunting use of repeated motifs bespeak the influence of Taiwanese veterans Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Yang, but director Yee Chih-yen is equally beholden to any number of coming-out/of-age truisms. Smitten with Shi-hao (Chen Bo-lin), a smirking hottie on the swim team, timid Yueh-chen (Liang Shu-hui) badgers tomboyish Ke-rou (Guey Lun-mei), into the role of intermediary. Signals are predictably crossed: The lad falls for Ke-rou, who, though more interested in Yueh-chen, leads on her admirer in the hopes that a hetero courtship will tamp down her inchoate lesbian desires. Set largely in empty public spaces late at night, Blue Gate Crossing supplements its slender narrative with disarming performances and plangent atmosphere (the introspective passages suggest Jane Campion's early shorts, with dark subtexts excised). Opening and closing mid-reverie, the film practically evaporates before your eyes and its weightlessness is surprisingly potent. Even as it conjures the dreamy, intensely private nature of teen longing, the movie acknowledges its transience and seems to mourn its passing.

 

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