In the film Drifting Flowers, director Zero Chou brings together three stories of lesbian love and camaraderie. In the first, the audience is presented with May, a young girl who is confronted with the need to guide her blind older sister, Jing, while envying her sister's relationship with Diego.
The second story is a sharp turn from the youthful innocence of May to the addled mind of Lily. Lily married a gay friend, Yen, in her youth, and each lives their own life; now older, Yen has reentered her life. The two, who in the passage of years had been left by their lovers, come to provide support for each other as Lily descends into the dark of Alzheimer’s and Yen is afflicted by AIDS.
In another quick shift, the third segment tells Diego’s story at long last. Diego is by far the most interesting of the three studies. Beginning before Ying and May in Diego’s hometown, the segment and Diego are asked the thesis of the film: “Are you a boy or a girl?” Diego answers, “A girl.” Yet, she is uncertain of her answer. Unwilling to wear bras, binding her breasts, Diego is uncertain who she is, while being certain of what she wants.
Uncertainty is the dominant theme of this film, epitomized by the question of being female while not being traditionally feminine. Doubt in one’s self, doubt in one’s society, and an inability to accept what you know to be true are primal to this dilemma. Each of the women comes to seek her place in society, be it through feigned conformity, resignation, or flight; however, this is not a movie about social change.
As a result the segmentation only exacerbates the unrest, and then exacerbates the viewer, as an hour and a half begins to feel like three. The segmented and taciturn structure of the film is strung together by the accordion music which at times haunts and at times revives each narrative, and narrowly avoids giving its audience a collective migraine. Ultimately, Drifting Flowers is about how lives often explode too softly into the night, as the movie itself implodes in the light of day.