By Sean Boelman
Culminating with the release of Lynn Chen’s directorial debut I Will Make You Mine, the Surrogate Valentine trilogy stands out as one of the highlights of the indie film scene of the past decade. Each movie having its own merits, these three short but sweet dramas are definitely worth checking out.
The films really ride on the charisma of its star Goh Nakamura. In all three of the movies, Nakamura plays a fictionalized version of himself, serving as the protagonist in Surrogate Valentine and Daylight Savings and a supporting character in I Will Make You Mine. Yet even though his role in the newest film is smaller, his arc is still very compelling.
Perhaps the most obvious difference between the first two movies and I Will Make You Mine is that the latter is directed by Chen, who previously played Nakamura’s love interest in the other two films, and her voice is tremendously interesting. By switching the perspective from Nakamura’s to that of the women in his life, Chen has made the story feel more modern and relevant.
The first two movies center around Nakamura’s struggles as a musician, first in trying to get into the industry and then in trying to maintain his success. While this does carry over a bit into I Will Make You Mine, there’s a lot more on Chen’s mind in that film. At times, this makes it feel a bit overstuffed, but it’s also more thought-provoking.
That said, what stands out most about this series is its authenticity. Even though Daylight Savings does lean a bit into convention at times, each of the movies is rooted in very real emotion. The dialogue is often very poignant, especially in Surrogate Valentine and I Will Make You Mine, which are very thoughtful.
Of course, Nakamura’s intensely personal brand of indie music plays a large role in the film. The middle entry, Daylight Savings, is perhaps the most musically-oriented of the three, but his songs provide an excellent undertone for the entirety of the trilogy. It’s hard not to feel moved by some of the beautiful lyrics Nakamura has written.
The series is also identifiable for its very distinctive look. Presented black-and-white, these movies have an undeniably indie feel about them that is absolutely gorgeous. Simplicity and emotion are the name of the game here, and directors Dave Boyle (Surrogate Valentine and Daylight Savings) and Lynn Chen (I Will Make You Mine) emphasize these elements.
The Surrogate Valentine trilogy will undoubtedly join the ranks of indies with a dedicated following. At under an hour and twenty minutes long each, fans of music will certainly want to sit back and enjoy the journey of this fictionalized version of Goh Nakamura.
I Will Make You Mine is now available on VOD.
The Snake Hole
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