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Three high school students experience the perks and pitfalls of love in director Leste Chen's sensitive tale of friendship and yearning. As a child living in a seaside town in southern Taiwan... See full synopsis »
A Love Triangle As Fragile and Lovely As Any Ever Filmed
ETERNAL SUMMER (Sheng xia guang nian) is a delicate, quiet, understated and eloquent study of youthful interpersonal relationships form Taiwanese director Leste Chen from a screenplay by Cheng-Ping Hsu based on the novel by the same name by Chi-yao Wang. The style of the film allows a wide audience to appreciate the sexual challenges of teenagers and understand the need for finding love and acceptance in a world at times too busy to care.
The story begins in grade school where Jonathan Kang (Bryant Chang) is a gifted student asked to 'supervise' another young boy in his class, Shane Yu (the dazzlingly gifted young actor Joseph Chang) who has an apparent learning disorder/attention deficit. Shane is rambunctious and athletically gifted while Jonathan is the quiet, reserved, brilliant student. The boys bond as children and grow up together into young men facing the exams for university entrance. A young girl Carrie (Kate Yeung) meets the two boys: first she challenges the studious Jonathan to take a trip to Taipei (ditching school) where she hopes to have a physical encounter. The hotel room is a disaster and Jonathan feels isolated from both Carrie's desires and from deserting his duties at school - and with Shane, who Jonathan loves far more than merely a best friend. Shane gradually moves into Jonathan's position as Carrie's physical companion and the resulting triangle results in confessions and incidents that allow each of the three involved young people to grow and understand the spectrum of love.
The story is captured with exceptionally beautiful cinematic effects by cinematographer Charlie Lam and the atmosphere of play and passion is enhanced by the musical score by Jeffrey Cheng. Yet it is the sensitive direction by Leste Chen that encourages the three superb young actors to become immersed in their roles. Chen knows when to say enough (the sex scenes are sensual and suggestive without even approaching an R rating) and when to allow scenes of quiet and eye contact to carry the drama. This is a very fine film that deserves a wide audience, both young and old. Highly recommended. In Mandarin with English subtitles. Grady Harp
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