Film Review: Beautiful Crazy

Bottom Line: Impressionistic lesbian youth film has ethereal beauty but its effect melts as fast as candy floss.

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- "Beautiful Crazy"'s original Chinese title "Confusing Youth" contains the keywords that characterize it -- a youth film with a confusing narrative featuring three pubescent girls in search of sexual and emotion connections, posing lusciously all the way through a shifting time sequence.

Director Chi Y. Lee's $130,000 project flirts with different art forms: TVC/MV, experimental art, even a dash of soft-core erotica. The stylistic fusion results in a tone poem similar to the teenage heroines -- visually ravishing but an airhead in the ideas department. A local youngish audience used to eye candy and Taiwan's boom in quasi-lesbian subjects may be tempted to see the film. Elsewhere, exposure would only be through festivals.

Xiao-Bu (Liao Chien-Hui) reminisces about her affair with Angel (Angel Yao) to Ah-Mi (Amiya Lee). Ah-Mi sleeps with Xiao-Bu's boxer boyfriend but the two girls enjoy furtive sexual overtures with each other. Angel is frustrated with her father's transformation from pro boxer to emotionally disconnected, porcine couch potato. How he got that way is never explained. She dates "Brother," an older man who maybe the father of her girlfriend.

There is little external or internal logic underlining these relationships, and the presence of the three girls seems almost interchangeable, whether they're having sex on a speeding train, fondling each other on a swing or waltzing in a drained outdoor pool. Though shot by a restlessly moving handheld in exquisitely composed, one-scene-one-cut sequences, they feel as static and fetishistic as the film's artful cutaways to blue skies, sunflower fields, and trembling water-lilies.

With a non-linear structure and diffused dramatic content, only the sensuous images filmed by Leonard Retel Helmrich and the dreamlike, minimalist score by Yoshihiro Hanno (composer for Hou Hsiao-hsien's "Flowers of Shanghai") hold the film together.

Taipei International Film Festival

Chi and Company Production.  Cast: Angel Yao, Amiya Lee, Liao Chien-hui . Screenwriter-director: Chi Y. Lee. Producer: Chien Li-Fen. Director of photography: Leonard Retel Helmrich. Art director: Tang Wei-xuan. Music: Yoshihiro Hanno. Editor: Liao Ching-sung, Chi Y. Lee, Lai Meng-Jie Sales: Chi and Company Production.
No rating, 94 minutes.