In the first story, an androgynous accordion player (gotta love that!) named Diego (Yi-lan Chao) falls for the lovely, blind female singer Jing in her band. Diego is first protective of Jing and her little sister May, but the women’s relationship blossoms into something more. But the relationship is complicated, not for the reasons you’d think, but because Jing’s competency as a caretaker for her little sister is questioned. How can she watch her sister while she is singing in nightclubs? And it doesn’t help that the spiteful sister has also taken a shine to Diego, bringing a dangerous jealousy into the sisters’ relationship.
Another story introduces a woman named Lily in her old age, reuniting with her gay husband-of-convenience after many years. Yen has returned into her life, alone and sick. He has AIDS, and she has onset dementia. They bicker and argue, but they realize they have a bond to take care of each other, now that everyone else is gone from their lives. It is a sweet and sad portrayal of a modern makeshift family that (like many relationships) doesn’t fit into the strict, traditional definition of the word.
The final story shows Diego as a teen, trying to figure out her sexuality while living under her parents roof. The parents have expectations for her, now that she is a teen, and her older brother is competitive with her as far as inheriting the family business of a traveling carnival show. He should rightly get the family business, but as the parents treat Diego almost like a son, a jealousy brews. Then one day Diego meets an alluring dancer named Lily from one of the other carnival acts, and she makes Diego realize for the first time that she is not alone in her desires and her needs.
Drifting Flowers, like filmmaker Zero Chou’s previous Spider Lilies is quiet and dreamlike with believable characters. Though sometimes her style is a little confusing (it was hard for me to keep characters straight, except for Diego, between stories as their ages changed and their stories overlapped), and the languid pace makes the film seem longer than it actually is, she still creates some interesting and unique stories. Zero Chou still seems to be honing her style, but overall, Drifting Flowers is worth checking out, and Chou is a talent to watch.