|Shen hai 2005 Taiwan Blue Cha Cha|
Blue Cha Cha requires patience, and yes, that’s code for it being an art house type film that moves slowly and doesn’t offer a lot of detail as to why things are happening. Beyond a somewhat ambiguous statement near the end of the film revealing why Ah Yu was in prison we never learn anything about her past, and throughout the film it is clear that she has no idea nor concrete desires for her future. She just drifts along, medicated, mentally unstable yet always trying to be nice, hoping each day will offer some measure of fulfillment. Blue Cha Cha isn’t a low-budget indie film. It has excellent production values and looks gorgeous. The direction is fluid and creative and the cinematography crisp and colorful.
These kinds of films need good characters and good performances in order to succeed. Blue Cha Cha delivers them. Yi-Ching Lu, who has been in a number of films by Ming-liang Tsai, is always reliable. She’s tough and unafraid to do almost anything as an actress. But the real highlight here is Tarcy Su. She is able to make us care for a character we never learn much about. We’re not always clear about what is going on inside her head but we’re always sure she is experiencing something. It’s very surprising to me how well she is able to articulate a confused yet committed mind without offering any insight as to the details of the matter. There’s a scene where she is lying in bed with a man, staring at him face to face as he drifts in and out of sleep. There is a frightening authenticity to her gaze which offers no explanation as to its genesis.
The ending is peculiar, and depending on how you interpret a couple of things ambiguously discussed and stated it could actually result in a big blunder. I’m not a fan of films which attempt an explanation for the mental instability of their characters. I appreciate that Cheng leaves it as a lingering issue until the very end of the film, and I doubly appreciate that he leaves it ambiguous enough to ignore if it is something we find questionable.
It’s a great pleasure when watching a film you’re enjoying and knew nothing about to recognize that beyond being a good film you are also experiencing the work of a skilled director. The upside to this is that there’s a good chance you’ll have at least a few more good films in your future.
Summary: Just coming out of the jail, depressed and close-hearted, Ah Yu met two men with different characters from each other. One is a businessman, charming and mature; the other is a young supervisor in a factory with a promising future. But these two loves are short-lived, fading away like bubbles on the beach. With a wounded soul, she went back to the cottage owned by Sister An, a friend from jail. An treats her like a sister, embracing her tortured soul. When they are unhappy, they dance on the pier. Their dancing steps swing like small boats in the harbor, driving away all the depression. Someday, a puppet show was performed on the pier. They saw a fisherman, Lao-Yao, playing a puppet. Through Lao-Yao who suffers from autism, Ah Yu found herself tangled in a feeling as deep as the ocean.