If we are to believe Hollywood, the emotional lives of teenagers are easy to depict on celluloid. Everything is black and white – there is little room for shades of grey. This is especially true when it comes to love since teenagers always know exactly who they’re attracted to and why, even if they can’t pluck up the courage to approach the object of their affection. Of course, experience tells us that Hollywood’s take on teenage life is a simplistic fantasy. More often than not, journeying through adolescence involves immersion in a dreamy world of shifting possibilities and contradictory emotions.
It is precisely this richly confusing state that Blue Gate Crossing inhabits. Set in contemporary Taiwan – amid bicycle lanes and high-school corridors – the film tells the story of three students caught in a love triangle. Lin Yueh-zhen is pretty and shy. Her best friend Meng Ke-rou is boyish and loyal. Then, there’s Zhang Shi-hao, a good-looking boy on the school swimming team. The friendship between the two best friends becomes strained when Yueh-zhen, who has a crush on Shi-hao, convinces Ke-rou to discover if he feels the same way. He doesn’t: Shi-hao actually fancies Ke-rou. And, yes, you guessed it, Ke-rou is secretly terrified that she’s in love with her own best friend. What could easily be a recipe for melodrama develops into a moving story about the nature of love. Although Blue Gate Crossing deals with the issue of lesbian attraction – rather wonderfully – it’s about much more than that. It’s about growing up, growing wiser and accepting that sometimes the people we love can’t love us back.Erin Gill