The first week of the new year seems a quiet one for the Asian film industry, though the fever of Kung Fu Hustle (
Now confronting Kung Fu Hustle are Butterfly (
Butterfly is Hong Kong independent new blood Yan Yan Mak's (
The film this year has toured Venice and Busan, and it received two Golden Horse nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Josie Ho,
The story follows a young married woman coming to terms with her lesbian sexuality. Roughly adapted from Taiwanese writer Chen Hsueh's (
Butterfly is a middle school teacher who has a wealthy and stable life -- a baby daughter and a loving husband. She encounters a 20-something girl, Yeh, a charming drifter with a child-like smile. Butterfly is deeply drawn to the girl and cannot calm her emotions. The narrative then cuts back to Butterfly's youth and to her high school lover Zhen. With Zhen, she spent a wild time hanging in Zhen's huge apartment, smoking, listening to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," playing with her 8mm film camera and making love all day when the parents were away.
Directed by: Kim Jeong-kwon
Screening theaters: Changchun Cinema (長春戲院), 172, Changchun Rd, Taipei (台北市長春路172號)
Running time: 107 minutes
Taiwan Release: today
It was a young passion accompanied by political passion -- the two girls are involved in students' movements and Hong Kong's support of the Tiananmen Square democratic movement of the 1980s. But the passion died quickly after the girls were caught in bed by Butterfly's mom. Butterfly left Zhen and soon had a boyfriend. Zhen devoted herself to Buddhism and became a nun.
Twenty years later, Butterfly's passion for women is evoked again while being seduced by Yeh. A struggle to find her true desire again troubles her heart. This time her husband, her daughter and her job are all dragged into the spiral of desire.
Of course, the intimate scenes of both female couples (past and present) are
crucial parts of the movie. Director Mak's use of lens is direct, raw and powerful, making audiences -- even those who cannot accept lesbian love -- look straight at the passion. Those can be the most successful parts of the film. The drawbacks of the film, however, are the slow and tedious final 20 minutes of the film, including a weak ending.
Korean romance film A Letter From Mars, comparatively, is more of a "normal" film, perhaps a too normal romance drama that is typical and predictable. It is a story about a man's persistent love for his childhood girlfriend.
Set in a humble mountain village in South Korea, young girl So-hee has a dream to go to Mars because she believes her father did not die, but is traveling on that planet. She tries to send letters to the father in Mars but of course, the letters are all returned. In order to not see the girl disappointed, So-hee's neighbor Seong-jae decides to write fake letters and deliver them to her. A love between the two begins to grow.