Film review: Our Times - Taiwanese teen romance has a new winner
Like huge Taiwanese hit You Are The Apple of My Eye, this film is a romantic comedy, set in Taipei and made by a first-time director, that recollects the bittersweet high-school years from a grown-up protagonist’s perspective
The unprecedented success of You Are the Apple of My Eye – author-turned-director Giddens Ko Ching-teng’s 2011 film adaptation of his own semi-autobiographical novel – has set the box office benchmark for Taiwan’s teen romances. It is a feat that Our Times sets out to replicate.
Currently 2015’s highest grossing Taiwanese film, this feature debut by experienced TV drama producer Frankie Chen Yu-shan is another Taipei-set romantic comedy made by a first-time director that recollects the bittersweet high-school years from a grown-up protagonist’s perspective.
Delayed consummation is again the key in Our Times, which, like You Are the Apple of My Eye, stretches out the obvious attraction between its central pair of a good girl and a campus troublemaker to more than two hours. The viewer is advised to simply surrender to the wave of sentimentality.
When the adult Truly Lin (Joe Chen Chiau-en) feels increasingly disheartened with her unrewarding office job, memories of her high-school years – during which her teenage self had fallen into the latter of what she terms the “popular” and “not pretty” camps before a belated makeover – flood her mind.
Back in the 1990s, the young Truly (Vivian Sung Yu-hua, star of the film adaptation of another Ko novel, Café. Waiting. Love) is initially smitten with handsome schoolmate Ouyang (Dino Lee Yu-hsi), but a zany run-in with the campus hoodlum Hsu Taiyu (Darren Wang Da-lu) dramatically changes the equation.
In the excessively saccharine will-they-won’t-they affair that ensues, Taiyu and Truly go out regularly on the pretext that they’re helping each other court their respective crushes. Plot twists: Taiyu used to be a wonderful student before a traumatic incident; Truly turns out to be a hottie.
In a convenient stroke of mutual promotion, Our Times also takes Truly’s fascination with Canto-pop star Andy Lau Tak-wah – an investor in the film – to nostalgic, and rather emotional, ends. Though unpersuasive to a fault, its fairy-tale ending might feel hugely cathartic for the already converted.
Our Times opened on October 15