Girls Love (2016)

cefc1e178a82b901991ddf50748da9773912ef25Title: 错了性别不错爱
Starring: 何佳颖, 米勒
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ | 2.0 out of 5.0

warnings for casual homophobia, sexual harassment, public outing

So it’s not the best English title in the world, but then, English is also not the only language in the world, and I’m quite willing to forgive an indie web film about queer girls falling in love just about anything but killing their protagonists.

This film, shot after and in partial response to the popular BL webseries Heroin 《上瘾》, became quite popular among young Chinese people. It follows the story of Yu Xiaorou (on the left), who finds herself developing feelings for Mi’le (right), her college roommate, and is forced to process those feelings. Meanwhile, she juggles dealing with casual homophobia from her classmates and an obnoxious boy who just won’t take no for an answer.

I have to admit; I didn’t watch this film on its own merit. I watched it because one of my favourite Taiwanese Youtubers did a summary of the film, but also (mostly) because I have found myself enamoured of 米勒. Like. Really. I dare you not to be.

I think I’ll caption this: hi, I’m bi, and she makes me want to cry

So if I finished the film, it’s not a credit to the film so much as it’s a credit to 米勒. Because to be honest, if this wasn’t a WLW film that ends somewhat happily (there’s a sequel that probably cleans up the mess of the last few scenes, but I likely won’t watch) that specifically starred a girl that was 100% my Type, I would have rated it much lower. Because in terms both of the technical and emotional aspects of filmmaking, this…wasn’t…great.

I want to preface the rest of my review by saying that if you enjoy cute WLW romances with plenty of kissing scenes, I would still recommend that you watch it, but the single most indicative measure of this film is the fact that it was directed by a straight director who, on a variety programme, said that he had shot this film “as if it were a love story between a man and a woman.” Yeah, alright, okay.

Just on a technical level, though, this was kind of a mess. I skipped through a lot of it to get to the scenes between Xiaorou and Mi’le, and the film was only around an hour long––and it felt it. The relationship between Xiaorou and Mi’le could have used a lot more development, and instead of saving the messy ending for the next installment to clean up, they could have added an extra thirty minutes to round it out in this film and tell a full story. The pacing was really sloppy, the use of music wasn’t great, the dialogue was sparing and the main character had zero to no personality beyond her feelings for Mi’le. I often felt like I was hurtling from Point A to Point B, only those points weren’t even on the same map in the same solar system. Certain scenes, certain characters could absolutely have been cut in order to round out the relationship between Xiaorou and Mi’le, but instead, maudlin montages were used to portray a relationship that has no stakes because we don’t get to know their identity as a couple, and the dynamic between the two felt quite uneven.

The fact that it’s an indie film shot on a low budget shouldn’t have a bearing on the pacing and the storytelling, and I’d almost rather the quality of the equipment, the wardrobe, whatever, be poorer if it meant for a richer story, but alas, it was not to be.

I’m not panning this outright, though. I have some reservations about the way certain things were handled––the necessity of the male character who keeps trying to force Xiaorou to date him and ends up pulling some fucked up shit after, the way that Mi’le is very clearly modelled after the aggressive and possessive idol drama leads. Still, there were moments that made me blush and squeal and want a girlfriend. And maybe I’m not willing to give up on a WLW film, who can say? Still, I’d recommend you at least swing by and check the first few minutes out if you’re interested. It’s far from the best film in the world, but who knows. Maybe you’ll find something worth staying for.

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