Cloud of Romance


Watching this 1977 Brigitte Lin Taiwanese film is somewhat like opening a hidden treasure trove of sumptuous Brigitte expressions. Just twenty-three at the time but already a huge star, Brigitte was still holding on to her youthful and willowy insouciance but clearly she is on the verge of becoming a woman. In this film she goes from giggly schoolgirl to a woman ripped apart by an impossible love and in the process unleashes a furious torrent of exquisite Brigitte looks that should curl the toes and torch the hair of even the most demanding Brigitte fanatic.
Her warm luminous beauty here is so striking that it is almost like taking a visual beating – trying to fend it off – to resist it is futile. She leads the attack with her luxurious eyebrows – they keep you at your distance – but the eyebrows are just a feint – they throw you off balance as she follows with her misty mournful eyes like a body blow to the solar plexus. The eyes envelop you like a fog, like a deep ocean – stop you from breathing for a dangerous moment – and then they suddenly turn into ember fires of disdain that rock you back on the balls of your feet. You quiver, you buckle, you go down – the fight is over – her slender nose, her quizzical mouth, her chiseled cheekbones, her endearing chin simply finish the job – put you under – it’s beauty overkill.
This is one of the more interesting Brigitte Taiwanese films for a couple of reasons. First it is much darker than most of her films from this period and Brigitte’s character is less than saintly and in fact her rash behavior has tragic consequences for everyone. Her acting shows some real depth and dexterity for one of these “weepy” offerings and one can really see hints of what is to come.
Another intriguing aspect of the film lies in the relationship of the characters vis a vis the relationship of the actors who play them. The story revolves around a love triangle between Brigitte, Chin Han and Charlie Chin. In the real world a similar situation was occurring, as these two actors were to revolve around Brigitte like satellites around the moon for a number of years until both lost gravity and crashed. Unlike reality though, in the film Brigitte favors Charlie and not Chin Han. Interestingly, as Meg points out on her wonderfully informative Brigitte Lin site (brigittelin.com) the two men never appear on the screen at the same time as they battle for the affections of the Goddess of Asian cinema. One can only conjecture at the tension on the set - but these were three of the most popular Taiwanese actors and the public demanded to see the two men cast opposite Brigitte.
Brigitte’s character's nickname is "piece of cloud" – and at the beginning of the film she floats like one – happily across the screen – but by the end this cloud is full of tears and close to madness. As is the usual case in these “weepies”, the culprit is love. That sort of big oppressive love that makes you do stupid things, in which you have no shame, no pride. Brigitte meets Charlie – they fall in love – it sounds like a fairy tale – until Charlie’s black widow mother turns it into a Grimm's fairy tale. No one is good enough for her boy she spits out with her poisoned tongue – you have “a pair of ill behaved eyes” she tells Brigitte when her doting son is out of hearing range. Brigitte burns with anger – the nostrils flare – the eyes go cold with Asia the Invincible fury “I also have an ill behaved nose, an ill behaved mouth, millions of ill behaved cells and countless ill behaved hairs”. Charlie is shocked that anyone could speak to his sweet mother like this and slaps Brigitte across the face. In disbelief, she walks away.
Into the arms of Chin Han – in love with her since childhood. She gives into his statements of love and marries him. Happy on the surface, she still longs for Charlie and when he shows up again one day she is unable to say no to him. Throw into this mix a sub-plot about Brigitte discovering her true origins, a number of lovelorn ballads and you have a fully blown Taiwanese weepie that may sound like purple prose melodrama, but in its own way it is fairly engrossing.
The Ocean Shores VCD for this is one of the better transfers I have seen of these old Brigitte films – nice transfer and excellent, easy to read English sub-titles. Many of these do not have any sub-titles unfortunately.

My rating for this film: 6.0