Stylishly shot with a crisp, cold veneer that underlines the impersonal aspect of its metropolitan setting, “Blue Plague” gets by on looks alone. Debut feature from Lin Tay-jou taps into a familiar vein of contemporary Taiwanese drama about alienation and despair, exploring its themes in rather obvious fashion. Adopting the overused formula of unrelated characters whose lives casually intersect and impact each other, the film looks unlikely to color much beyond Asia-heavy festival slates.
The figures drifting through Tapei’s urban landscape are a tormented artist unable to produce work for an upcoming exhibition, a convenience store worker whose bisexual, AIDS-afflicted boyfriend ran out on her, and a flight attendant. The latter is an ill-conceived, unsympathetic character who sidelines as a pickpocket for entertainment, lifting mainly worthless objects that form the connecting thread. One of these stolen items is the departed boyfriend’s diary, his entries about death, loss and the onset of illness punctuating the action. Self-consciously arty drama is underscored by repetitive, melancholy piano tunes, hammering its point in prosaic voiceovers about the lonely people in the world in need of love.