OA_show('Wallpaper');
OA_show('Leaderboard - Xx90');
Choose your edition:

Search form

Threeway in Taiwan

Threeway in Taiwan

IMAGE 1 OF 1
Girlfriend Boyfriend shows the complexities of love and attraction
It can be easy to forget that being gay means different things in different areas of the world. Time, place, culture and a host of other factors can all shape the way each person comes to terms with his or her sexuality. Sometimes it is joyfully or painfully familiar. Sometimes it is entirely alien.

Taiwanese director Yang Ya-che’s new film Girlfriend Boyfriend is a study in just how different the genesis of gay identity can be.

Most Canadian viewers won’t be familiar with the stern authoritarianism of a Taiwanese boarding school, the self-enforced silence of Chinese gay culture, or the tumultuous democratic reforms that took place in Taiwan in the 1980s. Luckily, none of this matters. This beautiful, personal, subtle film breaks through cultural barriers to remind us more of our similarities than our differences. The familiar, human moments in Girlfriend Boyfriend are all the more remarkable for their unfamiliar context.

Liam, Aaron and Mabel are three seniors at a rural Taiwanese boarding school, where they live in quiet rebellion against their harsh head teacher. Boyish and talkative Aaron is in love with Mabel, who in turn loves quiet and stoic Liam. Liam, however, is secretly in love with Aaron.

Mabel finally relents to Aaron’s advances, and Liam stays on as an awkward third wheel in their uneasy relationship. The three drift through the modernization of Taiwan, through democratic reform, student protests and military service, as well as fights and breakups, love affairs and reunions.

Finally, the three are drawn together again in Taipei and are forced to reconcile two decades of hurt and misunderstanding. There is no fairy-tale ending here, but neither is this another movie — such as History Boys — about how gay men can never be happy.

Despite gay themes, the stage unquestionably belongs to Mabel, played with breathtaking poise by Gwei Lun-Mei. Her performance will make you question and reconsider the cliché of the “fag hag” and relationships between straight women and gay men. Mabel and Liam’s understated chemistry is as touching as it is unsettlingly familiar.

Girlfriend Boyfriend is, at its heart, about the complexity and ambiguity of romantic relationships. The three characters share friendship, love and sexual attraction — but not always at the same time or for the same people. The film reminds us that we can love people we will never be attracted to, be attracted to people we don’t like, and every other variation.

This is not the first Taiwanese film to feature a three-way relationship and awkward sexual orientation problems. Girlfriend Boyfriend could easily be double-billed with Ang Lee’s adorable 1993 film The Wedding Banquet, about a gay Chinese American who marries a woman to satisfy his conservative parents. 

Don’t watch Girlfriend Boyfriend if you can’t handle subtitles or if you’re easily bored — the second half of the film is slow, and you’ll need to concentrate a little to figure out what’s going on in the confusing world of 1980s Taiwan. And don’t see Girlfriend Boyfriend if you’re in the mood for a peppy romantic comedy — the nominally happy ending is more likely to leave you in tears than in stitches.

But go see it if you can. This is a movie to see with a few close friends, followed by a relaxing evening ruminating on your favourite moments with a bottle of wine and the Wikipedia article on the history of Taiwan. You won’t regret it. 

Girlfriend Boyfriend opens Friday, Aug 3 at SilverCity Riverport in Richmond, and in Toronto at Yonge & Dundas 24 and at Kennedy Commons 20 in Scarborough. The film's run just got extended on Aug 8 for another week.



OA_show('Text Ad - #1');
OA_show('Text Ad - #2');

Comments

I’ll definitely be back for
I’ll definitely be back for updates on this for sure. I am really happy to study it and being able to reveal my ideas on it. I want to say that this article is amazing, great written and come with approximately all vital info's. I'd like to peer more posts like this. So nice to discover someone with genuine thoughts on this issue. I learned some things from your post.

Just be here to, buy kamagra australia
in their words shall ye know thine enemy
Lilly, your letter could form the impetus for a manifesto for Male-gendered-maleswithpenises loving/fucking male-gendered-maleswithpenises Separatism. Madame, we thank you for contributing to the cause.
Let's appreciate and celebrate the diversity
panbitransqueeredanythingbut gay: Why is your world shaken up by just this one story? What could be wrong with appreciating the diversity of human sexuality and gender expressions? How could this possibly be a threat to your penis-on-penis sexual preference? And 'trans-genital open penis'? What harm have trans women done to you to deserve this from you??
From what I see the majority of Xtra stories and coverage is for the gay males. Nothing wrong with having stories and coverage like this as well.
gay men must be open to the vagina
ANYthing that moves us away from cis male (with penis) on cis male (with penis) sex and love helps the Xtra Queered Cause towards total bisexual and trans-genital open penis and vagina LBGTQfolk. This film is more evidence that two cis/penised males CANNOT have love and sex WITHout the presence and intimacy of a woman, fag hag, bisexual couple, trans person, or anything with a vagina attached. Thanks Xtra for reassuring the Queered that their penis vag world will not be sullied by more old fashioned male/male penis/penis oppression!
Sign in or Register to post comments