Here’s an interesting fact: Taiwan is among the most gay-friendly countries in Asia. Gay marriage is not explicitly legal (a bill attempting to fix that stalled nearly a decade ago), but even as far as 2006, a poll of the population showed that 75% supported homosexuality in some capacity. In 2013, I have no doubt that percentage has gone up.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? is a film clearly influenced by cultural acceptance. As I watched the film, I was shocked by just how okay everyone was with homosexuals. I’ve seen less acceptance in Chelsea (which, for those of you unfortunate enough to not live in New York, is a particularly gay-friendly part of this lovely city) than I saw in that film. I realized that I’d never really thought about gay rights in Asia. It took a film, and a completely fictional one at that, to make me really look into another culture.
And you know what? That’s a big part of why I love cinema.
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Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
Director: Arvin Chen
Release Date: TBD
Even though homosexuality is acceptable in Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, the film’s protagonist, Weichung, is in the closet. A seemingly-once-proud gay man who repressed his urges, got married, and had a child. This was going fine, but one day an attractive young man shows up at Weichung’s glasses store looking for a new pair. It’s love (lust?) at first sight, and suddenly everything in his life has gone topsy-turvy. He has a decision to make: follow his true self or continue his repression in order to keep his family together.
Were Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? an American film, it would be a tragic drama. No matter where the story goes, someone will get hurt, and in a culture as repressed as America’s (imagine if it was set in the Deep South), this decision could have terrible ramifications for the protagonist and/or his family. But it isn’t an American, and I am so thankful for that. What could have been a harsh and depressing drama is instead a whimsical comedy. This is a film where a man takes out his umbrella and literally floats off into the distance, never to be seen again. It’s funny, but even though I laughed more than anyone else in the theater (a not infrequent occurrence at festival screenings), it’s hardly a-laugh-a-minute riot. That’s too bad. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but not all of the jokes hit their mark, which dragged it down. Also, at 101 minutes, it’s much too long, and there is plenty of fat that could have been trimmed.
But don’t let that turn you away from Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?. There is a lot to like here, and it’s interesting both on its own terms and as a look into another, much more accepting culture. I hope that someday soon, there will be American films that can treat this sort of material lightly (even if conceptually it is actually rather sad). For the moment, though, we have to turn to Taiwan. Go figure.