(Mandarin and Hokkien dialogue)

(Mandarin and Hokkien dialogue)

Afunny, sad little movie about a bunch of losers seeking romance in modern Taipei, “Love Go Go” is an enjoyably offbeat curio from second-timer Chen Yu-hsun (“Tropical Fish”) that’s agreeably free of the usual nihilism of ’90s Taiwanese pics and flawed only by being a reel too long. It’s a niche item, suitable only for specialized webs, but shows Chen as a continuing talent to monitor.

Principal characters are three social misfits: Liu Chi-sheng , a fat guy with glasses who works in his waspish aunt’s bakery; his flatmate, Lily Wu, a love-starved, food-guzzling fantasist with a serious weight problem; and Liao Ah-sung, a door-to-door salesman of personal defense gadgets.

Liu is stuck on a long-legged beauty who buys lemon pie from his shop; he thinks she may be an old school friend from 20 years ago with whom he exchanged childish love letters. Lily finds a man’s pager in the street one day, and starts obsessing over a phone number recorded on it. And the salesman falls madly in love with the same woman who’s the object of Liu’s obsession — revealed to be a hairdresser with emotional problems of her own.

The way in which their lives intertwine is slyly revealed as the movie progresses, with seemingly peripheral characters later stitched into the fabric. Beautifully shot in strong, bright colors, in a style pitched between the commercial and arty, it’s basically a straight-faced comedy of manners, downplaying the eccentricity and foibles of its protagonists to achieve a gentle , essentially romantic quality. Perfs by whole cast are beautifully judged, though trimming by around 15 minutes would considerably sharpen the humor. Chinese title means an ironic “Love Is Here.”

Love Go Go

(COMEDY -- TAIWANESE)

Production

A Central Motion Picture Corp./Spring Cinema Agencies/Zoom Hunt Intl. production. (International sales: Zoom Hunt, Taipei.) Produced by Hsu Li-kong. Executive producers, Chung Hu-ping, Oliver Chen, Hsu. Directed, written by Chen Yu-hsun.

Crew

Camera (color), Tsai Chen-tai; editor, Chen Po-wen; music, Treasure Island Music; art directors, Cheng Kuo-wei, Wang Chi-chung; sound, Tu Tu-chih, Cable Kuo; assistant director, Chang Ko-chung. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema),Sept. 18, 1998. (Also in Vancouver Film Festival.) Running time: 113 MIN.

With

With: Tang Na, Eli Shih, Chen Cheng-hsin, Liao Hui-jen, Huang Tsi-chiao.
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