A relationship movie about three women in love with the same man. That set-up sounds like the makings of the wishful-thinking romantic comedy of old; stories of men who are such amazing lovers that they leave behind them a string of broken hearts while maintaining a harem of lovers. I Will Make You Mine is not that movie.
Writer/director Lynn Chen’s directorial debut tells the story of three very different women: Rachel, a well-to-do house wife, Yea-Ming, a musician, and Erika, a professor. For all of their differences, the women share one thing in common: at some point in their lives, they all loved Goh.
The three women are all at crossroads in their lives: Rachel is dealing with her husband’s infidelity, Yea-Ming is dealing with a stalled musical career, and Erika is struggling though the death of a parent. Goh happens to be a common, connecting thread between the three.
He returns to town in a well intentioned but ultimately feeble attempt to help his ex-wife Erika by caring for their daughter Sachiko while she deals with funeral preparations but his late arrival and the conversation that follows makes it quite clear that Goh’s priority has and continues to be his music, regardless of who it affects.
While most movies about toxic relationships feature partners who are loud and obnoxious and clearly selfish, self-centered and bad news, Chen presents a much more realistic and, in some ways, far more dangerous bad partner: the unassuming, charismatic, “nice guy,” who seems like the perfect catch but whose actions are always self motivated and often toxic to the relationship. Sometimes unbeknownst even to him. Goh, played by real-life singer/songwriter Goh Nakamura, is this type of guy.
Chen captures the awkwardness of old relationships that are not quite rekindled but not quite dead in a straight forward manner that is sometimes uncomfortable to watch, but it’s refreshing to see the women confront their feelings head-on and come out the other side happier and ready to tackle the world. For his part, Nakamura plays Goh as a man who is just going through life, tone-deaf to the emotional wreckage he’s leaving behind.
Beautifully captured in black and white by Carl Nenzén Lovén and Bill Otto, I Will Make You Mine is a really unassuming relationship drama but it’s also much more than that. Chen builds an affecting, long-tailed observation on relationships that doesn’t fully reveal itself until after the credits roll and one starts to unpack the drama between Goh and the three women.