FILM REVIEW: Grandma’s Farting Scooter 阿嬤的放屁車3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Hsiao-Hui, a lady over 60 years old, always rides an old scooter. Although twostroke scooters will be forbidden soon, Hsiao-Hui has got used to hers and refuses to replace it. Today, she needs to deal with lots of things, including attending a mediation committee since she had a scooter accident previously. However, she is requested to look after her granddaughter all of a sudden, and thus their adventure on the old scooter begins…
Director: Chuang Yang Li
Cast: Lu Yi-Ching, Tsai Hsuan-Yen
Review by Leon Lau
At its heart, Grandma’s Farting Scooter (2018) is a moving road trip short about growing old, while refusing to let go of the things you love.
The set up is refreshingly simple. A grandmother (Lu Yi-Ching) has to take care of her granddaughter (Tsai Hsuan-Yen) over the course of a day as she runs errands on her old twostroke scooter. However, Director Chuang Yang Li finds clever ways to make this quiet slice of life story relatable through its familiarity.
With a minimalistic approach to storytelling, we are drawn into the short effortlessly. Very little music is used throughout, and the cinematography focuses on drawing you into the moment, instead of being flashy. The camerawork is handheld which gives it an almost documentary vibe, and key moments are told through longer shots. An early scene with Tsai Hsuan-Yen showcases this beautifully. As Tsai Hsuan-Yen pleads and cries to stay with her mother, the entire scene unfolds in a single uncut shot. This not only helps to lock audiences into the same room as Tsai Hsuan-Yen, but makes her plight all the more heartbreaking. All three characters are squeezed into the frame at the start, but as her mother slowly leaves the frame, the claustrophobic tone is quickly replaced by loneliness.
What makes the film so fascinating is how authentic the drama feels. Nothing is overplayed or melodramatic here. The entire short relies on Lu Yi-Ching, who gives an understated performance as the titular grandma. She lends the character a sense of assuredness with her calm delivery, but is convincingly firm and fierce when she needs to be. Instead of relying on fancy dialogue, the strongest scenes come from the quiet moments shared between the grandmother and granddaughter. Whether it’s a tender exchange trading secrets in a diner, or just sharing silence together, their relationship is what drives the story forward.
I do wish we got to see more focus on the “farting scooter”, as it is used quite sparingly as a way to ferry our characters from scene to scene. But while it may serve as more of a background prop, it also doubles as a metaphor for Lu Yi-Ching’s old age. The scooter struggles to start, and is always lagging behind the other vehicles on the road. But instead of complaining, our characters keep trucking on with what they have to complete their journey.
The beauty of Grandma’s Farting Scooter lies in how all these little, inconsequential moments add up to an emotional payoff by the end. For a story that is centered around aging and relationships, the relaxed pace of this short is a wonderful reminder for all of us to slow down in life to appreciate the people we love.
About Kaohsiung Shorts
高雄拍 (Kaohsiung Shorts) aims to make Kaohsiung the Taiwanese short film base, to discover and showcase new short films that break the norms, boundaries and stereotypes through the use of media. Started in 2012 by the Kaohsiung Film Archive, Kaohsiung Shorts is a short film grant that aims to encourage film talents to be based in Kaohsiung and be inspired by the city. Films created under this programme will be having their Taiwan premiere during the Kaohsiung International Film Festival. Since 2015, short films created under the Kaohsiung Shorts have been showcased in other countries such as Hong Kong, France, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.