Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? Arvin Chen
Published May 12, 2013At the center of Arvin Chen's vibrant, highly stylized Almodovar-adjacent look at the lives of two siblings and their respective romantic crises is a trajectory of emotional dishonesty. Though the story is about two separate couples, characters are rarely shown on screen with their spouse of fiancé(e)—a clever mode of visualizing internalized detachment—instead revealing their anxieties and fears to strangers and friends removed from the situation.
Optometrist Weichung (Richie Jen) routinely comes up with excuses to put off having a second child with his wife Feng (Mavis Fan). She, being unhappy with her mundane job, routinely showing up late and demonstrating other signs of ambivalence, clings to the idea of a second child as a way to rekindle the romance with her husband who demonstrates more sensitivity and care with their son than he does her. But, unbeknownst to her, his dormant passions—those of homosexual desire—have been ignited by a new client.
While this connecting plotline in itself could sustain a dramatic narrative, Chen isn't interested in detailing the hollowness of quotidian banality as a grating and imposing force. His method of storytelling is expressionistic and serialized, featuring characters floating off into the sky upon retirement and singing out their feelings—with full choreography—to the titular Shirelles song.
This is the injection of pre-marital woes between Weichung's sister Mandy (Kimi Hsia) and her humdrum, stable and loving (but dull) fiancé San-San (Stone) plays such a pivotal part to the story. Mandy's fear of settling into the same passionless routine as her brother, while never verbalized, is an essential projection of how the falsehood of performing identity transcends the self, hindering the lives of those in the periphery.
And while there are some touching moments of realization with Feng, coming to terms with her own disposition as a 38-year-old woman with a queer husband, Chen focuses more on the coming out of Weichung and the related antics of character interconnectivity and miscommunications with Mandy's wedding planner also being the gay confidante of her brother, dragging him out to gay bars and chatting about sham marriages. These idiosyncratic yarns try to make playful the potentially devastating in a sudsy manner but since Chen dabbles with comedy, drama and wild expressionism without committing fully to any of them, there's an emotional disconnect in the story that isn't entirely dissimilar to the one depicted in the troubled relationships.
Chen's rather astute and unromantic depiction of relationships intrigues through its sheer sobriety. Within Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? are an abundance of interesting ideas and clever techniques but the entire package is a bit miscalculated, suggesting that the director will need to take a few more stabs before perfecting his auteur vision. (Film Movement)