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MOVIE REVIEW

With ‘I Will Make You Mine,’ it’s back to Goh

Yea-Ming Chen and Goh Nakamura in "I Will Make You Mine."
Yea-Ming Chen and Goh Nakamura in "I Will Make You Mine."Bill Otto/Courtesy Gray Hat Films

A sweet, slight drama of midlife readjustment, “I Will Make You Mine” is the belated final film in a trilogy about a struggling indie rocker and the three women in his life. The first two movies are “Surrogate Valentine” (2011) and “Daylight Savings” (2012), and they haunt the new film like a phantom limb. Do you need to have seen them to take in “I Will Make You Mine”? Yes, but that’s OK: They’re both short, extra-likable, and available for rental on Amazon and iTunes (whereas “Mine” can be found on most cable systems and on-demand services). You may understand why a small and devoted cult has gathered around these films, and also why the rest of the world seems to have passed by unheeding.

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“Surrogate Valentine” and “Daylight Savings,” both directed by Dave Boyle, cast San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Goh Nakamura as a fictional version of himself — a talented, insecure panda bear of a guy. Having had a crush on best friend Rachel (Lynn Chen) since high school, he finds himself in a potential new relationship with fellow musician Yea-Ming (Yea-Ming Chen) amid various misadventures of the touring life. In the second film, “Daylight Savings,” he’s just been dumped by his grad-student girlfriend Erika (Ayako Fujitani) and is taken on a disastrous rebound road-trip by a brash cousin. The films are shot in black-and-white but the deadpan-heart-sore whimsy of the dialogue and situations is pastel.

Lynn Chen in "I Will Make You Mine."
Lynn Chen in "I Will Make You Mine."Eric Yang/Courtesy Gray Hat Films

Now it’s eight years later, and Lynn Chen, the actress playing the tightly wound Rachel, has taken over as writer-director. Consequently, while the story line still revolves around the lovably hapless Goh, there’s almost as much emphasis on Rachel’s mid-marriage crisis. Her husband, Josh (Mike Faiola), has received, um, extra services from his administrative assistant, and, spinning just a little out of control, Rachel Google-stalks her old friend and decides it may be finally time to light that fire.

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For his part, Goh has had a daughter with Erika — the adorable Sachiko (Ayami Riley Tomine) — and given up music for a cubicle job; the two are in a trial separation that technically leaves Goh free to do whatever he wants with whomever he wants. What that is has always been the underlying mystery of all three movies. The character’s aw-shucks passivity makes him difficult to root for at times, and you may wonder exactly what Goh has that three women are beating themselves up over. But then he’ll pick up a guitar and start to play one of Nakamura’s gently dented songs, and you realize the gift that everyone sees but him.

Ayami Riley Tomine in "I Will Make You Mine."
Ayami Riley Tomine in "I Will Make You Mine."Eric Yang/Courtesy Gray Hat FIlms

Yea-Ming Chen’s character is a bit of a doormat in all three movies — the sassy fellow indie rocker who matches Goh in talent and low self-esteem — but she gets some of her own back in “I Will Make You Mine” and the actress even gets to write and play the climactic title song, a banging piece of ear candy that rings pleasantly in your ears as the final scenes roll. Time is starting to tell in this third installment — bodies are settling, faces are drooping, Goh has a daddy beard. Youth has firmly fled and now what do you do with the cards left in your hand? These are questions movies rarely ask, and this one poses them with modest but genuine rewards.

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★★½

I WILL MAKE YOU MINE

Written and directed by Lynn Chen. Starring Goh Nakamura, Lynn Chen, Yea-Ming Chen, Ayako Fujitani. Available for rental on cable systems and streaming-video platforms. 79 minutes. Unrated (as PG-13: some language and sexual situations)


Ty Burr can be reached at ty.burr@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @tyburr.