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a massive letdown that didn't live up to my expectations
Café. Waiting. Love (等一个人咖啡) is a romantic comedy film based on the novel of the same name written by Giddens Ko (柯景腾/九把刀) , who's also the writer/director for the 2011 Taiwanese hit, You Are the Apple of My Eye (那些年，我們一起追的女孩). The film is directed by Jiang Jin lin (江金 霖) instead of Giddens Ko himself. So, did they manage replicate the success of the previous film? Unfortunately, no.
The story is about Si Ying, a college freshman who gets a part-time job at "Café. Waiting. Love" coffee shop because she develops an instant crush for a good-looking popular boy named Zeyu, who's a frequent customer at the café, after he 'saved' her from a bus accident. Si Ying eventually meets with Ah Tuo, a 'legendary' college senior at the coffee shop. The two eventually become good friends after Si Ying daringly stands up for him when he is teased by his friends. As time passes, Si Ying learned that Ah Tuo is a passionate, honest, straightforward and sincere young man who has been working multiple part-time jobs to realize his dream of travelling around the world and formed a bond with him. On the other hand, Ah Tuo is also deeply attracted to her kindness and unique sense of right and wrong. However, Si Ying only sees Ah Tuo as nothing more than a good friend because of her crush on Zeyu, until finally when he decides to leave Taiwan for his travels then she finally realizes where her heart truly belongs.
While You are the Apple of My Eye (那些年，我們一起追的女孩) is a memorable, feel-good romantic comedy that gives the audience a familiar, nostalgic feeling about real-life adolescent romantic relationships (which I gave a high rating of 8.5/10), the romance presented in this one is rather unrealistic, nonsensical and occasionally silly to the point that it feels like it could only take place in films. Moreover, the romance is further hampered by the film's lack of seriousness and unrealistic portrayal of the characters. Come on, who is stupid enough to be willing to dress in a bikini and carry a cabbage for long periods of time? The character romances are handled rather poorly as the film lacks coherency and doesn't take itself seriously enough to let the audience feel that the romance is a serious matter.
The film is filled with too many cheesy, corny and cringe-worthy dialogues that makes some scenes really unbearable to watch. Aside from the ridiculous 'supernatural' or 'magical' scenes between the leads involving hot sausages and bowls of tau fu fah (Chinese hot sweet soybean pudding), the film also comes with a surprising plot twist that doesn't make much sense either. The café owner's (played by Vivian Chow) tragic love story is incredibly overdramatic to the point that it feels artificial and hard to relate with. Some of the romantic subplots are not resolved properly...the café's lesbian barista's feelings for the cafe owner is not addressed further or touched upon later on the film.
However, I have to admit that the film is beautifully shot, well-edited and wonderfully casted. Despite its silliness, some of the slapstick humour does work in some cases and manage to provide the audience a few laughs here and there. Jiang Jin lin (江金霖) and Giddens Ko (柯景腾/九把 刀) do know how to pick suitable good-looking stars with sufficient appeal (and knows how to act as well) to attract the audiences. The assembled cast (especially Vivian Sung 宋芸樺, the female lead) tried their best to convey the necessary character emotions convincingly to the audience.
Although the romance between the lead characters is there, the film doesn't express its themes well enough. Basically, the film tries to show us the difference between love and infatuation. Since infatuation can sometimes lead to real love, these feelings are most often confused for each other by many people. Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by passion without reason and depends largely on physical attraction. When you experience infatuation, you tend to have difficulty concentrating and your mind is totally consumed by thoughts of the other person. You constantly wondering about what they do, who they're with and your mind filled with uncertainties about whether they really love you or not. Eventually, you have an idealized vision of what this person is like without truly knowing them at all (by imposing various qualities we desire most in that person).
On the other hand, true love is something different. Love is a tender, passionate, intense affection for another person. Love is a gradual process that only deepens with the passage of time. You can tell this person anything about yourself...he/she is someone you can express yourself freely, a person you can fully trust and confide your secrets with. You tend to feel safe, secure, peaceful and comfortable when you're with that person. Most importantly, you truly care for the person even after knowing his/her faults.
Overall, this film is a massive letdown that didn't live up to my expectations. If you're fan of the novel or Giddens Ko (柯景腾/九把刀), you might be able to sit through most of the silly scenes and forgive its flaws and absurdities. But for me, it's definitely a miss.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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