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7/10
A coming-of-age love story tangled in life's complexities
8 October 2012
Those clued in to Taiwan's much-hyped cinematic wave and new generation of auteurs will find Ya-che Yang's new work familiar ground.

A blend of coming-of-age realities and a fair dose of human drama, it's a formula that has been shown to work wonders.

Moderation, however, is often shown to be the achilles heel when following such proved plot formulas. And while the film touches many a raw soul rooted in the conundrums of unrequited love, it is also perhaps where Girlfriend Boyfriend flatters to deceive.

Set against Taiwan's political wave of student uprisings in 1985, Girlfriend Boyfriend is a film about three school students coming to grips with their sexualities and self-consciousness.

Sean (Shu-Hao Chang), Liam (Hsiao-chuan Chang) and Mabel (Lunmei Kwai) are best friends who are bonded by the anti-establishment ideology of the time.

Each brings a different element and perspective but all three pieces fit into a perfect team picture of revolutionary prodigies staking their places in society.

Of course, the adrenalin-charging environment of the times can only raise the levels of raging teenage hormones, and the viewer is slowly thrown to question whether their friendship is defined by bonds, or by their own love agendas.

In giving each of his three leading characters a distinctive unyielding persona, Ya-che Yang sets the development of his characters in a natural motion as the years pass.

While the consistency helps the viewer take a liking to them and their unconventional ideologies, it also surfaces a rigidity that extends to their love interests. And that, while stemmed in the film's main theme, is also what this critic felt was overscripted to the point of tiresome blabber.

All in all, the viewer leaves the theatre sharing the sense of resignation to life's conundrums the film's three lead characters convey through their complicated characters at some time or another.

The great Oscar Wilde penned "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life"

If it was pertaining to Girlfriend Boyfriend (2012), it might make sense to put away the tissue box readied for Hollywood-esque heart-rending moments, and bring a state of human consciousness into the theatre.
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