davidehrlich’s review published on Letterboxd:
**While the 2020 SXSW Film Festival has been canceled due to the coronavirus, IndieWire is covering select titles from this year’s edition.**
A typically winsome new addition to what has now become one of cinema’s most casual trilogies, “I Will Make You Mine” is a long-awaited gift for a small cult of fans: those who’ve been following Goh Nakamura’s romantic misadventures since “Surrogate Valentine” first introduced them to (a fictionalized version of) the lovelorn singer-songwriter in 2011. Nakamura returned shortly thereafter for a more grounded and heartsick sequel called “Daylight Savings,” but the “dreamsicle pop” musician has been missing from screens ever since, leaving us to wonder if he ever settled down or if he was consigned to spend all eternity crooning about the ways he almost found the right girl at the right time. Not only does “I Will Make You Mine” answer that question once and for all, but this shaggy and self-contained little ditty also asks it with enough warmth to seduce people who don’t know a thing about the sordid backstory that binds these characters together.
Written and directed by actress Lynn Chen, who seamlessly takes over the reins from Dave Boyle while also reprising her role as Rachel, the third and maybe final chapter of the “Surrogate Valentine” saga leaps forward in time like “Before Midnight” to find that life has caught up with Goh and his crushes. The first new detail is a bombshell: The nomadic troubadour has put down his guitar in favor of a steady day job, and though he’s still not together with his aloof but alluring ex-girlfriend Erika (“Man from Reno” star Ayako Fujitani), they now share an adorable six-year-old daughter.
Meanwhile, Goh’s stiff and forceful longtime friend (Chen) has settled into a troubled marriage with a white guy who recently cheated on her, while the spark plug of a musician who swept him away in “Daylight Savings” is still trying to make her dreams come true; a fictionalized version of Dreamdate frontwoman Yea-Ming Chen, Yea-Ming is the closest Goh has come to making out with himself, but now she reminds him of his failures and he reminds her of her regrets. For better or worse they’re stuck in each other’s heads like the chorus of a catchy pop song.