Director Chen Hung-I's Candy Rain could be the most perfectly titled film ever. Like candy, the film is sweet and tasty in small doses. However, too much is probably bad for you, and prolonged exposure would definitely lead to cavities. Also, the film's obvious meaning falls unavoidably like rain, and even an umbrella won't fully protect you. The best thing: staying indoors and avoiding it entirely. And it's time to stop the cheesy metaphors because they're strained and more than a little annoying. Oddly, "strained and more than a little annoying" could apply to Candy Rain too. Funny how that works out.
An omnibus film about four lesbian relationships, Candy Rain leads off with a tale of two old friends (Grace Chen and Belle Hsin), who are tested by their burgeoning lesbian relationship. They sleep together and bask in each other's company, but minor differences get in the way of a smooth ride to happily ever after, leading to an inevitable break up and a possible make up. Story two centers on an OCD-suffering introvert (Sandrine Pinna) who works as a chef and meets possible partners online. Her new girl is a forward older woman (Waa, doing her best Bai Ling impression), and the two manage some semblance of relationship progression before clashing personalities - and one partner's irrational need for loneliness - gets in the way of extended bliss.
A longtime love is the focus of story three, where Summer (Kao I-Ling) and Spancer (Niki Wu) declare their undying love right before Summer is due to be married. And yet the two promise to reunite many years later. Spancer is left to face the years alone without her one and only, but as always, the best laid plans don't always work out, as Summer comes crawling back - perhaps with her new husband (Mo Zi-Yi) in tow. Finally, story four is about a hyper emotional masochist (Karena Lam) whose new girlfriend (singer Cyndi Wang) abuses her in glorious comic fashion. Of course, the masochist will wake up, respect herself, and ditch her crappy relationships, right? Hmm, maybe not. Meanwhile, some delivery guy wanders all over Taipei trying to deliver a package to somebody named "Candy Rain." Will he find Candy Rain, and will it actually matter if he does or not?
Honestly, probably not. By the time story four rolls around, Candy Rain is so obvious in its intent and meaning that one may not care to parse every one of the film's details or metaphors. Chen Hung-I uses a multitude of styles and storytelling techniques, shifting between delicate sensitivity and brazen over-the-top comedy, but the bottom line of the film is always easy to discern because it's handed to the audience in an overt, obvious manner. Nothing truly revealing occurs in Candy Rain. The omnibus format dictates that these stories must be cursory, and since their meaning is handed out explicitly and directly, there's little left for the audience to ponder besides the hip art direction, cool MTV sensibilities, and faux Wong Kar-Wai effervescence. Candy Rain feels like art film-lite, and delivers familiar musings on love and life while not providing much surprise.
Worse, Candy Rain can become tiring, thanks in large part to the fourth story, which is edgy and over-the-top in an irritating manner. Karena Lam is not a very subtle comedienne, and is somewhat miscast in the film's final overdone segment. The rest of the actresses range from acceptable to engaging, with actress Sandrine Pinna making the largest impact thanks to her OCD-suffering character's quirkiness. There are some new and interesting faces among these actresses, and many will hopefully go on to more promising things. Candy Rain isnít a bad start for any of them, and indeed is successful enough as a deliberate pop-art confection to find some success at college screenings or film fests. It's just not revealing or unique enough to register as truly special. (Kozo, Reviewed at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, 2008)