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Spider Lilies (Ci Qing) (2007) (Taiwan)

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:07 am
by hengcs

Director: Zero Chou
Cast: Rainie Yang, Isabella Leong

The film won the Teddy Award in Berlin International Film Festival 2007.

When a webcam girl Jade (Rainie Yang) wants to get a tattoo (i.e., Spider Lilies) at the parlour run by Takeko (Isabella Leong), the story of how the two might have known each other many years back is unravelled ...

My thoughts

-- After watching the film, two questions popped up ...
(i) what would mainstream audience feel about the film?
(ii) what made the jury honour the film with an award?

So, I decide to have two para here, one for each question ...

What is weak about the film ... I thought the film does have a lot of potential (see next para), but as it is now, given the current edit, I would have to admit that some audience would feel detached from the characters. The theme of a lesbian relationship may already be a tough sell to some mainstream audience, yet this detachment is aggravated by the lack of "emotional" story telling, such that by the end, some audience may not really care whether the two girls become an item or not ... In addition, the film has three male supporting cast which are not well exploited. They all have interesting roles which I thought could be better developed and capitalized on. Somehow, the male police office does not come across as compelling; also, the deeply affected younger brother does not seem convincing, and finally, the gangster looks too caricature in portrayal. More work can be done and has to be done to make the film more memorable ...

But the film does boast of some merits, which I thought many could have easily overlooked and dismissed ... maybe that is why i feel obligated to shed some insights ... so, what is great about the film ... If we look beyond the basic plot, it does boast of two essential award winning "ingredients", namely, some subtle but important themes that cut across the entire film as well as its cinemtography ... In terms of themes/messages, there is the notion of remembrance vs forget, permanence vs wavering, holding on vs moving on, and reality vs fantasy ... Tattoo is not simply a fashion statement but is often symbolic of some memory. Jade wants the tattoo that remembers and reminds her of her first love, but Takeko gets a tattoo to assist her brother to regain his lost memory. Jade hopes that Takeko will recall their past, but Takeko does not wish to relive or evoke the past. Ironically, Jade is holding on to the past so as to love, but Takeko has to move on from the past to love ... Next, the idea of the webcam girl and the police under guise bring forth the message of reality vs fantasy. It questions what we see and/or believe. What is reality and what is the truth?! Do we assume too much? In a way, this theme also parallels the love relationship between Jade and Takeko, would it remain just a fantasy or would it become a reality?

In sum, the story may appear aloof, but it can spark interesting discussions ...

Hmmm ... I can only say it does have a lot of potential, though some find the characters too detached ... so, do go watch and decide for yourself ...

PS: The Chinese title means "tattoo". According to Japanese legend, spider lilies line the path to hell. By the way, the DVD is available.