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September 24, 2017

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Callow 'Cha Cha'

Sparkling insights on the issue of one's identity and the subtleties of twin sisterhood lie at the core of "Cha Cha for Twins" (寶米恰恰). The puppy romance spun around the central theme is sweet but also callow and somewhat stifling.

Poni Chang (張寶妮) and Mini Chang (張米妮) are twin sisters who constantly experience the extra stress of being compared against

each other, getting mixed up or being lumped together as one. Narrated through Poni's perspective,

we learn about the sisters' inextricable origin from infancy and fast forward to their current time in high school. The theme

running through all this is their paradoxical desire to live individual lives while being affected

by tugs of their special bond.

Yogurt (優果), who is captain of the debate team, has a crush on Mini. His heart races upon seeing her and his tongue becomes tied.

He buys bubble tea for Mini to court her and gulps it down — perhaps as a gesture of sacrifice and defiance? — when Mini turns down

the drink.

Meanwhile, Poni runs into her first love Yong-ping (永平), a tall and awkward guy who happens to be bleeding due to a wrist cut

from craft class. When Poni joins Yong-ping's friends in giving him first aid, she unexpectedly gets too close to him that both feel their

hearts flutter. Cascading piano music by Yang Wan-chien (楊琬茜) and slow-motion shots adroitly paint the moment of quiet passion

between them.

Technically, "Cha Cha for Twins" offers several commendable delights. Actor Huang Pei-jia (黃姵嘉) portrays both Poni and Mini,

showing keen timing in working across from a green screen and an impressive emotional range. The digitally assisted cinematography

conjures a convincing illusion of the sisters interacting in daily life. A continuous shot through Yong-ping's multistory home to convey

the hustle and bustle of mafia members playing mahjong is also delicious to behold.

The characters are admittedly quirky and endearing, yet to a skeptical viewer they seem coy and unrealistic. A debate team captain is

more likely to be good schmoozer (or at least able to hold his own) regardless of who he is talking to. The twins themselves are convincing for being pretty, clever and fussy, but feel somewhat reduced to stereotypes. The twins' parents are also one-dimensional; they chauffer and cater dinner for their daughters while offering preachy advice.

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