Little Blue (2022) by Lee Yi-fang

“People in the past used to have multiple children at this age, why is sex not allowed until the age of 16 now, we regressed instead of progressed?”

by Pawel Mizgalewicz

Director Lee Yi-Fang introduces her debut film as “not your typical East Asian movie,” but what could she possibly mean? I’m assuming he’s referring to the fact that the movie is mostly about sex. Yeah, the theme isn’t really romance, not the building tension and longing and loneliness that hopefully explodes into a passionate bedroom scene, or any other heightened theme like that. It’s mostly about sex as part of “normal” life: important, preferably pleasurable, but nothing all that magical in and of itself. The pragmatic approach is, in fact, something that casts the film as a unique piece, East Asian or otherwise. This straightforward approach might resemble the recent Japanese “Hand,” for example, a remarkably tongue-in-cheek film as an official soft-porn production that didn’t seem all that enthusiastic about the sex itself. But unlike that one, “Little Blue” doesn’t even contain nudity, and is generally much more geared towards women than most of the famous “girl playing in the field” stories.

Xiao Lan is not a nymphomaniac, nor a volcano: she is just, well, active, a real girl that we meet in the context of her relationships (mainly with men, but also with her mother and friend). By staying close to her leading lady and presenting her story so matter-of-factly, Lee also paints a believable picture of what young women are looking for and finding in sex in today’s smartphone-dominated times, when thousands of potential partners are out there. just one stroke away.

If you’ve ever watched any young adult movies, you already know what kind of character Xiao Lan is supposed to be when we meet her. She wears very large glasses, after all, a timeless “gray mouse” girlish accessory, with some seriously ugly shoes to boot. And yes, of course, she is indeed the clumsy, pale and stiff type of girl. The kind that she cringes in fear when her friends, who are already wearing makeup and baggier clothes, make sexual jokes…the kind that often stars in high school dramas who want to make it more “relatable” to girls youths. Fortunately, it’s already quite fun to watch, as Wang Yu-xuan also portrays the introverted character as smart and unimpressed as we all wish we were in high school. Seeing her dead-eyed repartees never gets old, but it also makes Lan a character we can easily believe in, as Wang subtly displays (at least by teen movie standards) new emotions during the development of history, and at the right time. , just one tear rolling down her face can be truly heartbreaking.

Lan’s nerdy life begins quickly when Tim, played by 30-year-old Roy Chang, shows up. Tim is tall, plays soccer, has the face of a K-pop idol, chases after girls relentlessly, and isn’t willing to accept what “no” means. The return of Xiao Lan’s attraction is shown to us with an entertaining game of appearances: he treats the boy coldly, but we also see that he occasionally looks at his Instagram profile, for example. Of course, like any self-respecting teenager, she keeps an indifferent face through it all, so throughout the movie we’re always left with some leeway to guess exactly how she feels about Tim or anyone else. character. . But, inevitably, something sure wakes up: soon, the glasses are removed and the girl sneaks into her mother’s room to use her makeup cabinet. Lan is now in the game, and with many guys interested in school and even more showing up every day on dating apps, she quickly learns about all the joys and disappointments of being with men, beginning to figure out what she’s into. . life.

Where there is a woman who enjoys sex, there is also social shame, as you would expect. “What’s the big deal about sex?” could be the catchphrase of the film, with the 15-year-old characters often wondering why their lust is taboo and ostracized to such an extent. “In the past, people used to have multiple children at this age, why is sexual intercourse not allowed until the age of 16 now? cheek, to be fair, but the point remains throughout the film. The fact that two people meet seems so simple and natural that all the fuss that can be made about it seems downright crazy, with flirting, games, simulations, hiding and also the social consequences. Lan has to take care of her reputation, with her sexual choices potentially made public and judged, and herself humiliated.

This is where the girl’s relationship with her mother becomes really interesting: at some point we realize that, in a way, these two single women, who are the closest contact to each other, try to hide the sexual part of their relationship from each other. life. Partly because they are afraid to admit what their relationships are really like if you stop and think about them. And in a delightfully complex twist, when the daughter experiences heartbreak or social embarrassment, she can’t always count on the support of her mother, who is also busy with her own romances. It’s not a judicious movie, and all the characters are just that rich: they’re cold to the usual and only vulnerable when they can really open up to someone, and they’re all doing their best to juggle their arousal with responsibilities to others. . without ever being able to please others and themselves at the same time. One deserves to be happy, of course, but to be happy with others, they have to make decisions, as we are soberly reminded in every step of “Little Blue.” Instead of the common “passionate love above all else” message, the film realistically asks about the possibilities of compromise in our lives, and hopefully that compromise will bring true happiness.

The subtlety of the acting and the humor make “Little Blue” a much more interesting watch than the plot summary would likely suggest, and it turns out to be a valuable fresh perspective on the often-discussed topics, not only on the scale of Taiwanese cinema. . Not meant to shock, the film is refreshingly honest and easily points out how important both finding love and finding a clit can be, with relatable characters summing up one of the common struggles modern women face when it comes to relationships: that it’s too much. easy. find a man, and too hard to find a good man. A fairly easy-to-watch film with universal themes, “Little Blue” will hopefully no longer be limited to Asian festivals and the appearance at Amsterdam’s Cinemasia will be just the first of many on the road to the global exposure it deserves.