Not a prequel to the Samuel L. Jackson/Meat Loaf barnstormer Formula 51, nor a salacious behind-the-scenes doc exposing the secret behind the intoxicating appeal of Seventeen magazine, Chen Yin-jung's Formula 17 is noteworthy for a bigger accomplishment: It might be, empirically speaking, the gayest movie ever released. The film takes place in an alternate (ideal?) universe where women, straight men, parents, and pimples don't exist. (The Samuel Jackson movie now seems less revolutionary, since a token parent character appeared in a cameo role.) Cradling his lucky condom, Tien (Tony Yang) moves to Taipei to meet an Internet hottie. But as soon as said hottie drops the "I have some hot DVDs at home" bomb, Tien flees to a nightclub, unwilling to part with his virginity outside the context of a passionate love affair. At the club, he glimpses Bai (Duncan), a/k/a "Playboy No. 1." (If this sobriquet is intended as a reference to Bai's ownership of the very first Playboy magazine, then it implies the existence of women, needlessly complicating the film's already radical structure, but I digress . . . ) Bai's got a pitch-black heart, though, either from reading said girlie mags or an unprecedented series of one-night stands. So mark my words: There is no way an innocent like Tien and a Meat Loafstyle heartthrob like Bai could ever make a love thing happen.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.