Disclaimer: This film was previewed before the intended premiere and cancellation of SXSW 2020.
Sometimes the most impactful films are the simplest – quiet examinations of the lives of interconnected individuals. The here and now and the future they embrace can provide deep glimpses into the nuances of humanity and even within ourselves. I Will Make You Mine is the latest to fall into these ranks, and despite a few bumps in the road along the way, it gives audiences a deeply nuanced showcase of the moments in life when we find the inability to transition and to let go.
I Will Make You Mine is a deep character study of the lives of three women in the middle of a transition, unsure of the directions their lives hold for them next. As they navigate life and love, they are each connected by their relationships with Goh (Goh Nakamura) – a former musician with a kindred spirit that speaks to them all and provides the final push to move forward.
The Transitions of Interconnected Lives
Audiences are individually introduced to three women, Rachel (Lynn Chen), Erika (Ayako Fujitani) and Yea-Ming (played by herself), each on the precipice of change, hesitant for the transitions that will bring them to where they are headed next. Complicating transitions and their lives as they navigate men, life and the world, is Goh, a commonality amongst the women that both connects and drives them apart.
I Will Make You Mine is a story about transitions and the process by which they are made possible. Each way is unique to the situation and to the person, no singular way incorrect. With Goh, a common thread amongst the women, he becomes a rotary of change, each of the women spinning around him, taking the appropriate exit when the time comes. For Rachel, he is the “what could have been”. High school prom dates, Goh had always been in love, and she with him, neither taking the step forward. As Rachel stares at the future ahead of her, the unknown compared to her present leaves questions that need to be answered.
Yea-Ming is a struggling artist – who sees her struggles as the necessary tool for success. As she begins to compose her own music and write her own songs, she hovers over the final step to her future. To transition from struggling recording artist. Her exit has not come up yet, though Goh provides the opportunity. A once successful musician himself, his knowledge can push her forward – if she can come to terms with the feelings she has harbored for Goh all these years.
While women of his past continue to circle, struggling to find their way, it is the woman of Goh’s present that truly seems the most lost. Erika is held back by unseen forces, communication with Goh and herself detrimental to her future for herself, with her daughter and with Goh. As she struggles with the death of her father (who died alone), she too struggles with what she really wants – and whether she can truly make the leap to be happy.
As much as these women are transitioning, so is Goh. He too is letting go of the women in his life, transitioning from bachelor to something more, something deeper. He is transitioning from a metaphorical rotary to an individual who finally knows where he would like to exit. While his transition is more subtle, there is a depth to his final outcome. He may not have changed so much on the surface as he has changed deep within.
As I Will Make You Mine begins, it is the cinematography that will immediately mesmerize. While the film is in black and white, the soft light filling the screen and lightening the faces of the characters is gentle, easing audiences in. The soft lighting is also accompanied by sunbursts, illuminating the screen. As viewers come to realize, we are looking through the eyes of Goh and his perspective of Erika. She is his world, the sun of his life.
The music accompanying this elegant opening is catchy as well; viewers will find themselves drawn to their phones, looking to make it a worthy addition to their playlists. The film closes out on a similar catchy tune. Finding strength both in front of the camera and behind, stars Ye-Ming Chen and Goh Nakamura not only acting, but are the film’s composers as well. The effective songs and compositions behind the camera speak to the chemistry they are able to craft and recreate on-screen.
The black and white filming was a brilliant choice by director, writer and actor Lynn Chen, stripping away distractions. You are completely focused on the characters and their interactions with one another. Each nuance, emotion and reaction is highlighted and focused giving these characters the due attention to detail they require for their stories to truly be told.
Unfortunately, there are moments when the film slows threatening to lose its audience, the music feeling more of filler than a part of the narrative. In these moments, I Will Make You Mine feels drawn out, as though it should have shorter, tighter. Thankfully though, these moments do wane, the engrossing story returning to its fullest.
Conclusion: I Will Make You Mine
While there are a few stumbles along the way, I Will Make You Mine is a deeply nuanced directorial debut from Lynn Chen that will leave audiences satisfied. There is so much to take in from each of the characters and the experiences they individually go through. While audiences have been robbed of their chance to see the film premiere at SXSW, if you see this playing at a festival near you or at your local theater, give it a chance. You will find the greatest satisfaction is in making this yours.
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