Nikki Hsin-Ying Hsieh, looking a lot like Zhou Xun from certain angles, plays the young woman with the beautiful name, Singing. She works on a ferry that shuttles recruits between the port of Kaohsiung and the military base of Kinmen Island. One night during the trip all the lights go out on the ferry and Singing appears to be alone. Then an Indian man with an axe, screaming without subtitles, chases her. She's rescued by a young soldier and the loopy dream logic begins. The soldier tells her that they are not in the real world. A horse walks by. Singing's hair is shorter and she's in a study hall in Taipei sitting next to the soldier only now he's a student. They fall in love but keep waking up together, or falling asleep and dreaming together, on the ferry. The future, the past, what's a dream and what's reality blur to the point that it doesn't matter. Until that little plot point rears it's head. There's a little crying and some running, two things that suggest melodrama, but this is a mood piece much more than a drama. The dreamlike quality is emphasized by the fact that almost all the scenes take place on or near the water. The cinematography is often muted and the soundtrack mostly noodling piano.
I think it's a mistake to try and discover meaning in a film like this, as the director or as a viewer, even though it's filled with innumerable possible symbolisms. This is not a commercial love story. It's far too down tempo and poetic. But it is a love story and these kinds of films require a nice couple for us to love, and the two leads provide that here, with extra credit given to the ever watchable Nikki Hsin-Ying Hsieh in her film debut.
The beautiful theme song that plays as the end credits roll is sung by Tarcy Su, a singer and actress I just discovered in the remarkable film Blue Cha Cha.
Starring: Bryan Shu-Hao Chang, Nikki Hsin-Ying Hsieh, Gwen Yao