Cha Cha For Twins
Directed by Jim Wang & Yi-Chien Yang
Far too twee and naive to inspire actual anger, Jim Wang and Yi-Chien Yang's feature film debut, Cha Cha For Twins, is exceedingly novice despite its superficial mid-'90s teen movie stylizations. It's the sort of work that might be forgivable, and even cute, as a short film, which is typically the format where filmmakers work out their bugs, but in feature form it's grating and embarrassing.
This is evident from the outset, with Poni (Peijia Huang) narrating a montage about the upbringing and experiences of identical twins, pointing out the pros and cons of this forced interconnected bond between her and her sister Mini. In theory, the cutesy disposition and pseudo-Alexander Payne style, wherein observations about external comparisons and basketball synchronicity and mirrored by comic, on-the-nose examples, should make accessible the insular subject matter. But since none of it is particularly amusing and the observations are all extremely obvious and superficial, which is exaggerated by the bad acting and amateurish shot composition, it ultimately feels strained and contrived.
Worse is the film's eventual trajectory, which attempts to force an identity crisis onto the girls through the introduction of exceedingly different romantic interests that have a hard time telling them apart. While Mini flirts with the idea of dating the debate team captain, Poni, our narrator, acknowledges the interest of the school doofus, noting his rumoured link to the local mafia.
If had aired on a youth programming network approximately twenty years ago, it might have been well received as a throwaway teen comedy with a playful central gimmick. But within a modern context, the impetus of male attention as defining force of the previously undefined and indiscernible female identity borders on offensive.
Of course, since there's something exceedingly innocent and clumsy about this woefully conceived coming-of-age story, it's more pitiable than offensive, if only because the directors are so far out of their element in reaching for broad accessibility.
Cha Cha For Twins screens on Saturday, November 17th at 1:30pm at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.
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