Wu Nien-Hsuan, Laila Ulao, Vera Chen
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…. grimly digs into and hones-in on the everyday struggles faced by those on the fringes of society.
Named in reference to the popular Asian jackfruit, Boluomi tells the story of Wu Yi-Fan (Wu Nien-Hsuan), nicknamed Boluomi; an adolescent student who migrates from the war-stricken chaos of Malaysia to Taiwan to begin a new life as a student and leave his fraught past behind.
However, once Yi-Fan arrives, familiar issues and challenges of his past – which he tried to escape – soon rear their head, tarring his idealism.
So begins this study of the disenfranchised lives of Southeast Asian migrants, in the debut narrative feature of Chinese-Malaysian filmmaker Lau Kek-Huat and Taiwanese actress/director Vera Chen.
Laced with flashbacks to Yi-Fan’s turbulent and volatile childhood in the war-torn jungles of Malaysia – which involved guerrilla warfare, violence, starvation and a frenzied relationship with his father; Boluomi jumps back and forth between the issues which shaped Yi-Fan’s upbringing and his life in Taiwan.
Despite having migrated to a new country, which appears to be more open and democratic and far from the realities of his violent youth, Boluomi’s new beginning is not the vacation he imagined.
Struggling from one menial job to another, experiencing discrimination and racism against his Chinese background, plus manipulation of his minority, non-citizen status by employers, the unwelcome, outsider existence is far from the fresh, disparate and better life the student had hoped for.
As Yi-Fan wanders from job to job, directors Lau and Chan contrast the troubled situation of Boluomi against other Taiwanese immigrants who are manipulated and taken advantage of, neglected and discarded.
During one of these stints, Yi-Fan meets Laila (Laila Ulao), a Filipino migrant similarly struggling to survive and make a life in Taiwan, who he develops a romantic relationship with. This is one of the only optimistic events for Boluomi.
Detailing the plight and issues of the marginalised workers and migrants at the very bottom of Taiwan’s ladder, Boluomi grimly digs into and hones-in on the everyday struggles faced by those on the fringes of society.