Set in 1980s Taiwan, after the end of military dictatorship, Monga centers around the troubled lives of five boys coming of age together. The narrator of the story, Mosquito, is invited to ... See full summary »
When four best friends try and move forward in their work and personal life, they realize that trying to live their life's dream is more difficult than they imagine -- especially in the high fashion world of Shanghai.
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 ... See full synopsis »
Higashigaito Yutaka is transferred to the Bangkok branch of Eastern Airlines. In three months, he will marry Michiko, a relative of the airline's founder, and though he doesn't love her, he... See full summary »
22 year old Bai arrives in a small town of Taiwan to pursue a Masters degree in music. She is quickly involved in a weird relationship with her teacher, Lee, which slowly turns into a ... See full summary »
A group of close friends who attend a private school, and they all have a debilitating crush on the sunny star pupil, Shen Jiayi. The only member of the group who claims not to is Ke Jingteng, but he ends up love her as well.
Chen's film will be easily embraced by anyone who demands something different from their usual diet of Western romantic comedies.
Executive-produced by Wim Wenders, the great German director of Paris, Texas (1984), and Wings of Desire (1987), Au Revoir Taipei is an assured-feature length debut from Arvin Chen. Written and directed by Chen himself, the film is an ode to light-hearted, whimsical French romantic comedies, but it is ultimately rooted in the culture that is specific to the filmmaker's own. Is Taipei the new Paris, the city of love? Not yet, but through his two lead characters, Chen suggests it could be so, and it could be now.
Kai (Jack Yao) is the film's protagonist. He longs to be with her girlfriend, Faye, who is now in Paris. He spends many nights at a local bookstore to read a specific guidebook that would teach him French. Susie (Amber Kuo), who works in the bookstore, finds him a lonely sight and tries to talk to him. A few exchanges of nervous glances, and the director has impressively set up a boy-girl tension between the two leads, one that strikes a delicate balance between awkwardness and syrupiness, and of which it remains pleasantly consistent throughout.
Chen adds in a farcical crime attempt that Kai finds himself embroiled in. It not only turns out to be a discreet relationship building experience for Kai and Susie, but a relevant episode in which the lives of colorful, humorous supporting characters converge, creating a narrative platform for Chen to explore the singular theme of "the longing for love". The performances are generally subdued; however, the lack of expressive or emotional dialogue is not a flaw but Chen's way of letting his characters take on a conservative front.
These are characters who are either shy, heartbroken (from a failed romance) or simply clueless. We see their motivations but their actions and responses, which are unbeknownst to them, remain quietly humorous to the viewer. And it is this low-key humor that Chen successfully captures that brings a positive vibe to Au Revoir Taipei. The camera-work is clean and simple because the story is clean and simple. Chen could have employed gimmicky techniques like split-screen or quick cuts to show off his talents, but they are not necessary, and I applaud him for that.
Au Revoir Taipei trades a conventional and overly saccharine romantic fable for something that balances commercial appeal with art-house influences. Accompanied by a breezy though occasionally melancholic score, Chen's film will be easily embraced by anyone who demands something different from their usual diet of Western romantic comedies. This is not true love at first sight, but rather the site of first true love. Enjoy.
SCORE: 8/10 (www.filmnomenon.blogspot.com) All rights reserved!
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