Dir: Cheng Hsiao-tse. HK-Tai. 2008. 83mins.
Miao Miao is a feature debut with some heavyweight names behind it - Wong Kar-wai’s production company Jettone, his legendary editor/production designer William Chang, producers Stanley Kwan and Jacky Pang - but it’s a lightweight confection from Taiwan which will be restricted to the Asian teen market attracted by these names and that of Fan Chih-wei as the male lead.
Four teenagers share centre stage and their relationships cross sexual boundaries during the course of this 83-minute feature set in Taipei and centring around Xiao Ai (attractive young Eurasian actor Pinna) and her new best friend Miao Miao (Ke), a schoolgirl on an exchange programme from Japan.
Intensity rules the day as Xiao Ai’s feelings for Miao Miao cross the friendship threshold, and the newcomer develops an intense crush on surly record shop owner (Fan) who is in turn pining over his lost love, the (male) singer of his former band.
To the sounds of an Asian-pop score (Openeye, Gina, Stanly, who may help the film score ancillary business), director Cheng overdoes it visually, from slow-motion cutaways to a marked tendency to bathe everything in an unsubtle orange light. Throughout, the influence of Wong Kar-wai is evident stylistically, but the screenplay falls short of the Hong Kong master’s standards. Xiao Ai worries about a cake-baking competition; Miao Miao looks for a missing pop demo; characters read Kerouac’s On The Road and quote from The Little Prince.
Like Xiao Ai’s cake, it all falls a little flat. Within a precise Asian teen demographic, however, it may drum up some interest and it seems likely the film world will hear more from Cheng Hsiao-tse.
Jettone Films Limited
Jacky Pang Yee-wah
Block 2 Distribution Limited
(852) 2336 1102
Even Tsai Yi-fen
William Chang Suk-ping