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Blue Gate Crossing
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Wilson Chen Bo-Lin and Guey Lun-Mei in Blue Gate Crossing.
Chinese: 藍色大門  
Year: 2002  
Director: Yee Chin-Yen  
Producer: Peggy Chiao, Hsu Hsiao-Ming  
Writer: Yee Chin-Yen  
  Cast: Wilson Chen, Guey Lun-Mei, Liang Shu-Hui, Joanna Chou
  The Skinny: Though the ground it covers is nothing new, Blue Gate Crossing is an artfully-told film that takes potential narrative pitfalls and weaves cinematic gold. Director Yee Chin-Yen creates an unobtrusive, quirky, and yet subtly moving coming-of-age story.
by Kozo:

Meng Kerou (Guey Lun-Mei) is a seemingly average Taiwan teen who hangs out almost exclusively with pal Lin Yuezhen (Liang Shu-Hui). Their lives are filled with the usual stuff: their high school lives and boys, though the latter seems to be primarily Yuezhen's domain. Yuezhen holds a severe torch for Zhang Shihao (Wilson Chen Bo-Lin), a seventeen year-old swim team member who she simply cannot approach. Though it's rather silly, Yuezhen is simply too shy and immature to openly talk to Shihao, so she uses Kerou as an intermediary. Shihao ends up thinking that it's Kerou who has a thing for him, and not Yuezhen, who he writes off as being a fictional creation on Kerou's part. Yuezhen makes matters worse by signing a love letter in Kerou's name, and Kerou ultimately gets fed up enough to hold off on convincing Shihao of the truth. When Shihao starts to show true interest in Kerou, this can only lead to trouble.

The expected and logical plotline of Blue Gate Crossing could be this: girl and guy fall for one another, but since the girl's friend secretly likes the guy, the girl is afraid to fulfill her desire. Right? Wrong. Though the plot of Blue Gate Crossing sounds suspiciously like your average John Hughes film, writer-director Yee Chin-Yen eschews commercial obviousness for a simpler storyline and complex, recognizable characters. Kerou's problems do involve the "my friend likes the guy" issue, and a love triangle does form between the three teens, but Kerou's target may not be Shihao. Societal norms dictate who Kerou is and exactly who she's supposed to like, but if she goes against that, what exactly does it mean?

Murky descriptions aside, many other films have contained similiar stories of sexual awakening, but Yee Chin-Yen manages to find some refreshing, innocently charming ground on which to set his drama. The kids are perhaps a bit behind the times (you wouldn't see the teens in Larry Clark's Kids acting so unrealistically naive), and nothing really groundbreaking ever occurs. Still, the direction is appreciably hands-off and engagingly matter-of-fact. Events unfold in generous long takes, with camera setups accurately depicting moments of intimacy and distance, and dialogue that's spare and very realistic in its obtuse repetition. Characters reveal themselves through action more than dialogue, and though much of what goes on is opaque, the actors are able to convey myraid layers of emotions. The teens are deglamorized and realistically portrayed, and their inner turmoil never overdone. Yee Chin-Yen could have made this an over-the-top emotion fest, but his direction is stylish and artful without being obvious.

If Blue Gate Crossing has any true weakness, it would perhaps be that it's a little too sweet and innocently played. The high school world of these teens lacks any sordid realism, and though some of the situations might merit more serious emotional damage, that never seens to be a danger here. At the same time, the growth and change the characters experience can be subtly compelling. This is especially true in the case of Zhang Shihao, whose quiet maturation from boy to man makes him an exceptionally likable character. Conversely, Lin Yuezhen seems to be on the slow track to growing up, and her character's wide-eyed denial of reality makes her a less likable, though frightfully real character. Meng Kerou is an even bigger narrative bomb, as her personal issues have been the curse of many a "sensitive" film about sexuality. A certain tension is created by Kerou's sexual confusion, and the result might feel like a cop-out to some, or a poetic compromise to others. Its easy to say that Blue Gate Crossing falls short of true significance because it becomes more slice-of-life than definitively-telling, but that might be being too critical. Regardless of what it truly accomplishes, Blue Gate Crossing is an astoundingly lovely little film. (Kozo 2004)

Awards: 23rd Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
Nomination - Best Asian Film
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Edko Home Video
Mandarin Language
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles

images courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen