Oddball Taiwanese tragi-comedy revolves around Roy/Rose (James Chen), by day a Taoist priest and by night a female impersonator on the neon-flashing float of the title. Yet, strangely, the hero/heroine’s dual life poses nary a problem vis-a-vis community standards. Instead, “Splendid Float” evolves into a dreamy mood piece about love, loss, and the inability to let go. Atmospheric curio may find a home as a change-of-pace entry at either gay or Asian fests, where its weird mix of matter-of-fact gay camp and ghost-ridden mysticism will confound expectations in both venues.
With a compressed 72-minute time-frame and an attitude toward narrative uniquely its own, pic drifts in and out of chronology. Rose falls in love with a handsome young fisherman who later dies, but the hunk occasions more on-camera screentime, via flashbacks and spectral visitations, after his demise than before. The float’s colored neon lights, reflecting over the waves in which the b.f. has drowned, confound past and present in a dream-state of denial. As Rose forlornly mourns, her cozy gay troupe of fellow performers, arrayed in boas and lame and lip-synching pop love ballads, orchestrate impromptu shows to amuse the dearly departed’s ghost.