Beautiful Crazy is a Chinese indie movie of the Taiwanese stripe. Which means that it's very slow and deliberately confusing more often than not. It's not that the plot is at all complex but the editing makes it difficult to figure out what is going on. It follows a pattern: we'll see a scene that seems to come out of nowhere and then we'll see the scenes that preceded it and then scene proper will be repeated. At times it seems as if the movie is about to break the forth wall as the characters appear to be staring straight at the viewer but the explanatory device will then put things in perspective. After a while it gets a bit contrived and it does not even fully reconstruct a coherent chronological order of events.
Apparently the movie was shot in a few days, most of the dialogue being improvised, and the editing took a year. It shows. The acting is flawless and believable as we follow two estranged teenage girls both in their high school days and as young adults.
The lesbian overtones and mixed love triangles is something of a staple of Taiwanese cinema and while interesting it is not as enthralling as the girls' backgrounds: Angel's father is an overweight man who stares out the window all day and refuses to at all acknowledge her even as she jumps up and down in front of him; Xia Bu is very much conflicted about life in general and at one point collapses on the street for reasons unknown.
The problem is, what makes the movie great are these flashbacks. Cleverly woven into the narrative, the past events have a poignancy that seems mostly absent from the present even when events take a turn for the highly emotionally tense. The present demands crazy coincidences that are way too unlikely. Also, by tackling this kind of mixed gender love triangle Beautiful, Crazy is setting itself against powerhouses of Taiwanese cinema like Eternal Summer and Girlfriend, Boyfriend, that considerably superior in almost every respect.
This element of teenage dystopia reminded me of All About Lily Chou-Chou, the better conceived scenes in particular invoke the same kind of forlorn nostalgia. From the two girls sitting on the swing, to Angel looking around in a field of big sunflowers and Angel and Xia Bu dancing in an underground tunnel while playing with the shadows. They move in a derelict world, in old buildings falling apart, ruins and empty pools filled with debris.
The movie revels in being an indie production and does so with gusto. And technically it has some very interesting moments like this long pan-out scene as the camera pulls away through a series of carriages of a movie train. The use of black and white works remarkably well.
Overall, I would not recommend this movie unless you are a huge fan of Taiwanese cinema. If that's your thing then odds are you will appreciate this movie for what it tries to accomplish.
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