[Movie Review] Blue Gate Crossing (2002)
Taiwan, France | Drama, Romance | PG | Director: Yee Chin-Yen | Writer: Yee Chin-Yen | Cast: Chen Bolin, Kwai Lun-Mei, Yolin Liang, Chau Ching, Ming Gin-Cheng | Chinese | 85 minutes
'Blue Gate Crossing' is a pleasant and solid Taiwanese coming of age romance chronicle in which the story relies on the element of uncertainty. Directed by Yee Chin-Yen, this feature bridge a profound connection between the immature state of an adolescent's way of thinking and external factors that are capable of impacting such juvenile's life going forwards. While it possesses a triangle love as its fundamental conflict, the film itself tries to deliver a considerably more significant message for the younglings and a piece of remembrance for the adults that everything going on in our life will always retain a certain degree of vagueness. People won't stop learning, revelation after revelation is bound to happen, thus people will keep changing throughout the remaining of our lifespan.
We have a bunch of ingenuous high-school teenagers as our titular characters who seem to have not been touched by the complexity of their own problematic vigours that they haven't realized yet. There are Lin Yuezhen (Yolin Liang), Meng Kerou (Kwai Lun-Mei), and Zhang Shihao (Chen Bolin). Yuezhen is this one girl who's very into Zhang, a good-looking avid swimmer, but she doesn't have the courage to approach him properly. She always requests her rather tomboyish best friend Meng Kerou to serve her bidding in trying to get close to Zhang. So whenever Yuezhen wants to send a letter to Zhang, Meng would act as the courier. But, such arrangement conjures a new issue because Zhang thinks that Meng Kerou is the one who'd want to get close to him and Yuezhen is just a made-up name to cover Meng's motive.
Furthermore, Meng Kerou herself is undergoing a phase where she's in a limbo of identity. She doesn't know whether she actually likes girls or boys. That particular strife doesn't make 'Blue Gate Crossing' suddenly turns into a full-fledged queer cinema (in fact, calling it as a mere romance drama is already a huge mistake) but instead, this portion of the story is provided as a medium to moreover escalate the stake of urgency for these characters to explore and discover each of their precise singularity. Yee Chin-Yen presents us with a handful of agonizingly naive figures but what we as the viewers will get at the end could be said as quite fulfilling characters arcs.
Starting from Meng Kerou, the most fleshed out personage in this film, is being portrayed as a bit unpredictable personality. At some points, she displays her side that is full of compassionate perseverance and at the other times, she chooses to show her more silently anxious side. She's a type of person who prefers to keep things just for herself, she struts her way around the town looking like someone who rarely feels or cares about anything. But as time progresses, Meng also showcases her tendency to contemplate about her future. Zhang is highly immersive on screen as well because Chen Bolin did great in channeling two sides of a coin in a distinct individual since he retains this sense of tender cockiness of a confident student-athlete and also a timidity of someone who couldn't even be honest with himself. If a fault could be identified from the movie's script, it's their decision to exhibit Yuezhen only as a shifty thread to maintain stuff afloat among the three of them.
The outward appearance of this Bildungsroman-styled narrative is pretty much moody and calming. Almost the entirety of its runtime is comprised of minimalist dialogues and utilitarian actions. Because of that, the success rate of this Yee Chin-Yen's creation heavily depends on the casts' shrewdness of character appreciation, which fortunately they were superb at it as evidenced by some of the film's scenes that resonate genuine raw emotions. Mesmerizing from top to bottom, 'Blue Gate Crossing' embraces its own universe as a world furnished with puerile tenacity and freedom of expression without appearing to be too unequivocally brash. It was indeed a prominent stage for an actress like Kwai Lun-Mei to propel her career into the vaster landscape of Asian cinematic industry.
Each role enjoys a sufficient amount of self-awareness about how they are experiencing a transitional period of their life and it balances out the robust presence of gullibility within themselves. It won't dish out the whole nine yards of what you're expecting from a teen romance drama though, in the end, you'll comprehend a much more valuable lesson. Days of pubescence are always essentially universal all around the world. It's a path you simply can't figure out where you'll end up, it's about encountering many shades of possibilities without knowing which one would come to fruition for you unless you decide to step in for real.
Review written by: Dysan Aufar