Far East Film Festival 20

Udine Italy April 20th/ April 28th 2018
The Film Festival For Popular Asian Cinema
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
Tuesday, April 25, time 12.50 PM


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52 Hz, I Love You

Wei Te-sheng, the director behind megahit comedy-romance-drama Cape No. 7 (2008) and historical epic Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (2011), returns with his first directorial effort in six years. 52Hz, I Love You is a collection of simple love stories blown up into a musical-romance-comedy complete with original songs and unproven singer-actors in the leads. This could have been a simpler film, but Wei Te-sheng does nothing the easy way.

Set in Taipei on Valentine’s Day, the film features lovelorn or love-struck individuals in stories that are so simple that it would be fair to call them clichéd. But 52Hz, I Love You succeeds due to its heart, which it wears ardently on its sleeve with wall-to-wall songs that establish mood, develop characters, deliver exposition, and celebrate love. All told, the film contains over 70 minutes of songs in a 109 minute film. On sheer musical volume, 52Hz, I Love You has La La Land beat.

The first of the film’s two main romances is between flower shop owner Xin (Chuang Chuan-ying) and baker Ang (Lin Chung-yu). She’s in her early thirties and laments being single, while he relates to the 52-hertz whale, an individual whale that is the only one to emit a call at 52-hertz – the parallel being that his signals of love towards friend Lei (Mify Chen) aren’t being heard. Xin and Ang meet cute while delivering Valentine’s flowers and chocolates, respectively, after which they find mutual affection.
The other main love story features Lei, who regrets her ten-year relationship with Da He (Sumi Ruping), an immature day-dreamer with little life success. Over the course of the day, she reflects on her disappointment, and resolves to end their relationship. On his side, Da He has had recent luck and is now planning to ask Lei to marry him. But he may be too late. Compared to the first story, Da He and Lei’s relationship has more at stake and subsequently finds greater emotional weight.
Chuang Chuan-ying and Lin Ching-yu are likeable, though the lightness of their story doesn’t require them to do more than play types. Of all the actors, sultry-eyed Mify Chen has the best presence and is the best singer, while Sumi Ruping has an earnestness that makes him into somebody that the audience can relate to. Their story is less naïve or movie-like than Xin and Ang’s, though the outcome is still predictable. This isn’t really a flaw, as the script eschews pretension, and the film’s lyrical mood and playful humor carry it splendidly.

The side stories offer delightful support. Sandrine Pinna and Nana Lee steal their few scenes as a lesbian couple rushing to participate in an outdoor group wedding ceremony, despite not being legally allowed to marry. This subplot is one of film’s few socially relevant ones, as Taiwan is fighting to become the first Asian territory to legalize same-sex marriage. Making the subplot even more enjoyable is an affable cameo by Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je as himself, presiding over the outdoor wedding ceremony and presumably hinting at his political leanings on marriage equality.
Wei Te-sheng also enlists the majority of his Cape No. 7 cast in cameos, clearly drawing a connection between his music-related films, while allowing Cape No. 7 star Van to perform the film’s most hummable song, “Big world, small world,” a light rock number that caps off this eminently enjoyable musical Valentine.
Ross Chen (www.lovehkfilm.com)
Film director: 
Wei Te-sheng
Running time: 




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