From Taiwan comes this delightful romantic comedy. Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Taiwan but “Formula 17” has a wonderful sensitivity and the treatment of the issue is wonderful.
Seventeen year old Tien (played by Tony Yang) moves to Taipei to live with Yu (Chin King), a friend who bartends at a gay bar. Tien, who knows nothing about sex, is a virgin and plans to stay that way until he finds true love. (How wonderfully idealistic). Yu is involved in a long distance relationship that is taking is toll on him and is determined to bring Tien into the Taipei gay scene and have him lost his virginity. Yu even arranges a liaison with a really hot plumber but Tien is attracted to a 30 year old businessman who is notorious for liking one nighters. Bai, the businessman and Tien eventually hook up but Bai avoids Tien the next day. Tein’s friends go out looking for Bai to make their pal feel better and what results is a scene that is so madcap that it is hard to believe.
“Formula 17”is a very funny movie. It is simple and this is probably what makes it so delightful. There are no nudity nor sex scenes per se but even so, the Taiwanese government banned the movie in Singapore.
In some ways, the film is somewhat amateurish but the characters are well developed and I cold not help falling for some of them. The actors seriously persuaded their roles with relish and what could have been stereotypical becomes touching and sensitive. It is a satirical look at the way so many people live their lives and it ropes you in during the first few minutes and you find yourself enjoying every moment. There is a great deal of heart here and it deals with issues that the gay community has always faces—fidelity and honesty and friendship. “Formula 17” is one of those movies that you can sit back and just enjoy without thinking or attempting to unravel a plot with twists and turns. It is just a good time.