Happy Date is one of our seasonal Periodicals, temporarily standing in for Friday Flicks, created because of our love for Asian cinema and the fact that it’s February and March – the months of Valentine’s Day and White Day.
What we’ll do with Happy Date is recommend romantic films to watch for your date. After all, we want to be there for you in times of need when you want to cuddle, hang out, or make out with your loved one and while a great film is playing.
Happy Date will be slightly different from Friday Flicks, in that there will be no serious review. Instead, we will have fun with it and tell you why each film is great to watch for your date, and what you can expect out of making each selection.
So without further adieu, let’s get going! Have a Happy Valentine’s Day and White Day, everyone!
This week’s Happy Date: Au Revoir Taipei
Au Revoir Taipei
Original Title: 一頁台北
(One Page Taipei)
Genres:Romantic Comedy, Caper
Main Cast:Amber Kuo
- The original title of the film is a play on words which sounds like “one night (in) Taipei”, which sums up the basic premise of Taipei captured in a single page or a single evening…
- The film made its international debut at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival where it came away the “Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema” (NETPAC) Prize.
- The film boasts the inimitable Wim Wenders as one of its executive producers, so you can be assured of a quality production, according to master director’s exacting standards.
- Amber Kuo won the Best New Actor award at the 12th Taipei Film Festival in 2010 for her fittingly whimsical depiction of Susie.
Basically two decidedly different genre films, neatly intertwined into a single, endearing package.
The central story concerns Kai – embodied admirably by Jack Yao – as a lovelorn young man pining away for his girlfriend who has gone away to study in France.
Kai has every intention of following her and diligently camps out at the local bookstore every evening, using it much like his own personal library, to teach himself French. It is there that the bookstore clerk, Susie – the sweet and elfin and delightful Amber Kuo – first takes notice of him.
Kai remains oblivious of her interest as he still holds onto hope of making his floundering long distance relationship work, even though it is clear to the audience that the object of his affection is slowly slipping away.
Refusing to let her go, he hatches a plan to fast-track his timetable to pursue his fleeting love to Paris and thus gets involved with some shady would-be gangsters to acquire the ticket he so desires. It is thus that the parallel “caper” narrative is introduced, which fuels the film’s momentum and infuses it with a lightness and verve that is nothing short of infectious.
Over the course of a single night in Taipei, the paths of an unlikely collection of eccentric characters become inextricably intertwined. As the most innocuous of circumstances sparks a series of unexpected events, leading the audience and the cast down increasingly random turns and bizarre hijinks, before ultimately culminating in the most satisfying of conclusions.
Written and directed by Taiwanese-American feature length debutante Arvin Chen, this is in essence a romantic comedy wrapped in the unlikely form of a decidedly quirky crime caper, unfolding over a single, unforgettable night in Taipei. A decidedly assured initial endeavor, the film is briskly paced and tightly edited to keep the interweaving plot elements from running into each other or completely collapsing into a convoluted mess. As such, you can be certain that you and your date will remain thoroughly engrossed for the entire narrative arc – and perhaps learn something about your relationship along the way.
While it might be overly ambitious to think that the myriad meanings of “love” and the subtle nuances of a relationship can be resolved through the duration of a single film, it nonetheless offers a decidedly fun and light-hearted romp through a picturesque evening cityscape, with a motley crew of endearing characters.
While it could be argued that this film could have been transplanted to any other metropolis, it ultimately remains a love letter to the city of Taipei. The director and cinematographer successfully establish the city as a character in and of itself, fully realized with all of its idiosyncratic grace and whimsical charm. If you have ever been to Taipei, or if you have lived there your entire life – or even if you have never been there at all – you and your date will find yourselves completely incapable of not falling for its singular appeal. Could this possibly light the spark to planning your next or first foreign adventure with your (hoped for) significant other?
The film also offers a reflection on the ins and outs of contemporary courtship, with the assorted assembly of characters finding themselves at decidedly different stages in their relationships. One particular plot element touches on the enduring theme of unrequited love, through one character’s inability to express how they truly feel due to a lack of basic courage, while another deals with the inevitable fallout of taking one’s partner for granted.
But the film does not get bogged down in heavy subject matter, and despite the possible dark turns the film could have taken, you never find yourself overly concerned for the characters’ safety or basic well-being in any way. You and your date will discover genuine laughs offered by the bumbling hijinks of the would-be gangsters and their misguided machinations. You will both find yourselves cheering for the central protagonists and hoping for the best for the remainder of the supporting cast.
And together you will remain thoroughly engrossed until the final chase and dreamlike closing, which are quite simply a genuine pleasure to watch unfold.
Throughout the film there remains a magical whimsy in the air, as we explore the neon lit back-alleys of a city that never sleeps on a night that permeates with possibilities. Throw in a bumbling kidnapping attempt, a seedy love hotel, some random dancing in the streets, and set it all to an infectiously jazzy soundtrack; and you just might discover a Taipei you never knew but was always there… So if you and your date can leave your skepticism at the door, pin your hearts on your sleeve, and allow yourselves to be carried away by this film’s easy charm, then you are both in for a breezy adventure, that is in many ways light as a feather, but is by no means forgettable.
A neat little caper of a tale about the often misguided and misaligned, misadventures of love. It is a reminder to all of us that pining for something seemingly “perfect” out there, often blinds us to the magic that is right here, in front of us. A perfect date movie, whatever the occasion, that you and your partner can both enjoy thoroughly. As an added bonus, it will hopefully help you both to appreciate where you are and what you have.
However the film has added resonance for couples who are in the fledgling stages of their relationship, or offers the ideal film to take that girl (or guy) you have always had a crush on, but have been too afraid to reveal your true feelings to. Invite them to see this film with you, grab a bucket of popcorn and some soda, and as long as their hearts are not completely frozen over, they will, without a doubt, be won over by this hidden gem of a film – and perhaps even you.
Whimsical and charming and sweet, I dare either of you not to be up and dancing by film’s end…
Then you can head off to the night market before it closes, for a midnight snack of noodles and steamed dumplings from the local street-cart vendor – trust me, you and your date will be craving them after the final credits roll and they will be the perfect way to round out and conclude a magical evening.
Watch this film…
…if you wish to share a whimsical encounter with your significant other, that will leave you both believing in the magic of spontaneous adventure waiting just around the corner… which is always the best kind …