Review: Betelnut Beauty (2000)

Directed by:
Cast: , , , , ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

This film falls squarely into the arthouse genre box, for those who like to pigeonhole their movies. For those who like to pigeonhole further, it could be categorised as “troubled urban youth meander through their lives at a gentle pace”.

It might be clear to some of you that I feel rather equivocal about this one. And it’s true: while I’ve heard many good things about this film, I couldn’t really throw myself into it. It began fairly well, with Chang Chen looking beautiful but possibly a tad too unkempt for one fresh from military service, and the first meeting between the two was undeniably cute: two pretty young things, standing in the rain on a city street, screaming enthusiastically at nothing.

Now I must digress momentarily to wax lyrical about Chang Chen. He is one of the privileged few who are capable of acting with their eyes alone, a skill that he demonstrated ably in such flicks as Happy Together and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He gives those eyes a workout here, as well, but it’s not quite enough to carry the film, alas.

The girl too is fresh and pretty, but as I’m unsuited to appreciation of such by virtue of my gender and preferences that fact cut no ice with me. She was certainly qualified for her job in a street-side betelnut kiosk, a job that requires beauty and a sexy wardrobe and not much else.

So, we have a pretty cast, playing rather ill-defined characters, with a loose and directionless plot. The development of the romance between the two seemed to be all on the part of Chang’s character, while the girl pranced around looking pert and expecting obedience. I’m not criticising, mind: I’d do it if it would work for me, but it didn’t make me warm to her.

In summary, I suspect this is a good film in some respects, given the film festival attention it has received, but it didn’t excite me one jot.

4.5 Mopeds out of 10.
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