Hua Wei Mei (Bad Romance)

by Kevin Langson
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday May 5, 2011
Hua Wei Mei (Bad Romance)

Fran├žois Chang's "Bad Romance" serves up plenty of just that (punctuated by a ringtone of Lady Gaga's song of the same name), though it does so in such a visually lush and romantic manner that the subsequent discomfort and anguish seem savory. Well, when you are young, beautiful, and immersed in a fashionable milieu, what is a little heartache in the scheme of things?

But this hip melodrama takes its heartaches quite seriously. Chang takes us inside the entangled lives of seven young Beijing residents, three of whom form a bisexual triangle who are studying French together at the Alliance Francais. Their studies are steeped in the romance of the language, and they seem to revel in how lovely contemplating the nature of love sounds in it. In one scene, in which their French instructor asks them to describe love, Francois (played by the director) says, "Love is war."

If that sentiment is not true for Francois, Yasmine, and Loulou, it certainly seems to apply to the gay couple, whose easily flowing lust and complicated affections form the other focus of the film. These two men are gorgeous nightclub regulars who stumble into each other on the street after a long period of not seeing each other at the clubs and begin a live-in affair, though Cheng proves to be a deceitful self-server who is much less committed than Bass. The jealousy and two-timing that arise out of this tenuous new relationship are nothing fresh, but it is a fairly evocative portrayal of both the beauty and shortcomings of being smitten with an elusive object.

Yasmine's friend, Xiaoya, seems to be adrift in an elusiveness (or illusiveness) of her own. At one point, we are left to wonder how much of her world is real, versus imagined. She seems set on a romantic existence, but without a proper object for her affections. She is shown, for example, in slow motion carrying an umbrella through a park on a summer day, stopping to smell flowers along the path. The wallpaper on her walls is vividly floral, and she is always dreamily inhaling the scent of flowers, so that it seems she is as enrapt with the notion of romance as Bass is with his romantic object who cannot be. It is in the gay male affair that the film is at its sexiest, but it is perhaps in showing Xiaoya's world that it is at is most pleasurably stylish.

Bad Romance
Boston LGBT Film Festival
Screens on May 7 at 1 PM


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