Insinuatingly serene and lyrical until it succumbs to cliched Noble Sacrifice, "Incidental Journey" promises good things to come from helmer Jofei Chen. Her tale of two women who connect -- albeit not quite enough -- during a rural sojourn offers a refreshing take on lesbian characters, and very modest production captures the verdant Taiwanese countryside in oft-exquisite 16mm color lensing.

Insinuatingly serene and lyrical until it succumbs to a last-act case of cliched Noble Sacrifice, “Incidental Journey” promises good things to come from helmer Jofei Chen. Her tale of two women who connect — albeit not quite enough — during a rural sojourn offers a refreshing take on lesbian characters, and very modest production captures the verdant Taiwanese countryside in oft-exquisite 16mm color lensing. Too short and ultimately too slight for much offshore play beyond gay fests, pic shows Chen ready for larger-scaled arthouse projects.

Tearfully leaving the longtime girlfriend who’s just ended their relationship, glam, self-absorbed Ching (Su-Li Wu) impulsively picks up hitchhiker Hsiang (Wan-Jung Wang), an older lesbian artist with a kind, open spirit. Latter is heading to a farm run by two old friends, who welcome Ching as well; eventually she loosens up, and the two women haltingly grow attracted to one another. This vibe ultimately leads nowhere, however, and reasons for its failure are at once vague and hokey (in a brave-smiles-of-self-denial fashion). Nonetheless, air of meditative understatement that suffuses perfs and Chen’s direction is quite attractive. Camerawork by Berg Liou and Chih-Yuan Chang tops polished tech package.

Incidental Journey

Taiwan

Production

A Zoom Hunt Intl. Prods. production. Produced by Ju-Feng Yeh, Chung-Ying Ting. Directed, written by Jofei Chen.

Crew

Camera (color, 16mm), Berg Liou, Chih-Yuan Chang; editor, Po-Wen Chen; music, Gerald Shih, Blue Cheese, Ming-Xia Wang; production designers, Chuan-Chiu Kuo, Ching-Mei Ko. Reviewed at San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, June 23, 2002. Original title: Haijiao tianya. Running time: 61 MIN.

With

Wan-Jung Wang, Su-Li Wu, Vicky Chiang, Dung-Ning Hsieh, Man-Nung Chou.

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