Fashion photographer Lin Kuo Hao is manipulating women to be a little bit more risque and try nude modeling for him. This triggers the rapist and sadist in him. Looking to flush him out, Yen Siu Hsin instead finds herself captured and then willingly immersed in his world of mental and physical torture...
From Lam Yi-Hung (The Other Side Of Dolls) comes much of the same and usual when seeing the rating and his name on the marquee but this time it's a psychological drama too. At least it wants to be because as clever as Lam is using his visual sense, his psychological and storytelling sense is largely incoherent. With a psycho, stalker story brewing as our photographer lets a bunny nibble a woman's private parts, looking gleeful, bathed in strong colors and as a cherry on top, we got closeup of eyes... it means what it sets up. A tense, dangerous aura that is still too goofy to be taken seriously considering said animal and behaviour such as the photographer not liking shaved nether regions so he paints them on body hair personally.
In the midst of some very sharp, elegant, playful and creative visual playtime, Lam has major trouble getting clarity out of a story as it's hard to understand why Hsin pursues the photographer in the first place. Via interviews, leading to some goofy, sex-asides like a kitchen quickie and soon thereafter microphone rape, it is indeed all over the place but Lam wants to anchor the attraction Hsin feels to her abductor in past trauma.
Problem is it's basic, been there, done that templates echoed here like watching violence, sex at a young age and being an orphan. It's hard to put those mental pieces into one coherent idea that forms Hsin's psyche and mostly we watch for the visually arresting, taboo-like imagery on display where captor and captured are drawn to each other.
Throw in a very tame and lame love triangle and Forbidden Love ultimately seals its fate as a somewhat brave movie for the genre but one that's far away from being ready to tackle this scenario on a deeper, mental level. Nothing wrong with wanting it and Lam Yi-Hung is still excellent at crafting beautiful, sexual imagery. Looking gorgeous only wasn't the game plan but it's what it ends up doing.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson