Reel Asian Film Festival 2012: Cha Cha for Twins (Kirk Haviland)

Reel Asian Film Festival 2012

Cha Cha for Twins (2012)

Starring Huang Peijia, Paul Chiang, Lun Ou Yang

Written by Yi-Chien Yang

Directed by Jim Wang, Yi-Chien Yang

Kicking of Saturday’s lineup at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts is the award winner from this year’s Taipei Film Festival, Cha Cha for Twins. This coming of age story centers on the tale of twin sisters who, now that they have turned 17, are discovering just how different, and alike, they truly are as they both strive to emerge as individuals apart from each other. But growing pains aren’t called ‘pains’ without reason.

Poni and Mini (Peijia in a dual role) have always done everything together. They go to the same school, get good grades, and play on the basketball team. But Poni starts to feel angst about being so inextricably linked to her identical sister, and desperately strives to stamp out her own individual identity. What was once convenient and even advantageous has become a burden for Poni, especially once Mini catches the eye of the Debate club captain Yogurt (Yang), who can easily tell them apart and only has eyes for Mini. Desperate for the same attention, Poni bumps into Ping (Chiang), a boy already held back one due to poor grades, who has no idea how to tell to the two apart.

Cha Cha for Twins carries all the typical trappings of a twins movie. Mistaken identity, false accusations and other typical sitcom fare are all evident but in this instance there is a lot more. The film plays out as a standard formula picture until we get half way though, then the script and direction change. Writer and co-director Yang brings in the real life experience of her being a twin to flesh out the background and stories of both girls while infusing each of the girls with a distinct personality. Poni’s desires, as she also serves as narrator, become clearer and Mini’s trepidations come to light through their relationships with Yogurt and Ping.

The real strength of the film comes in the performance of Peijia as both Mini and Poni. Peijia manages to deliver two very different and separate performances as each sister. Her performance is what elevates the film from the real possibility of this becoming a very generic picture, her work really picks up in the second half when the film could easily make the transition to goofy but instead becomes stronger. The supporting characters do decent work here, Chiang’s Ping is a lot better realized than Yang’s Yogurt, but this film is really a showcase for Peijia’s talented work.

Sometimes when we get a film with two directors the direction can get muddied and split between the two vantage points. In this case having two directors may have been a blessing, as the film manages to keep a crisp pace with emotional sidebars with the twins that are clearly influenced by director Yang’s personal experiences. This allows us to adopt a close relation with the twins and makes them all the more relatable. The effects work put in to place Peijia against herself on screen are actually a well-executed mix of cg and body double work, despite one sequence involving a track meet that has some very clearly evident work done to it.

A complete surprise, the film almost dies in the first third of the film but really grabs you in the middle and gets you to buy in until the end. Cha Cha for Twins is a one woman tour de force for Peijia and it’s because of her performance that I give Cha Cha for Twins a recommend.

Cha Cha for Twins plays on Saturday Nov 17th, more info can be found on the Reel Asian website HERE.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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