Love in Taipei (2023)

Love in Taipei (2023)

A breezy and likable all-Asian romcom that unfortunately just runs out of story to tell

5.2

Movie

Taiwan, United States of America
English
Comedy, Drama, Romance
2023
ARVIN CHEN
Ashley Liao, Chelsea Zhang, Cindy Cheung
92 min

TLDR

Like that meme drawing of a horse, where the front half of the horse is pretty good and stylish, but in the back half... there is no more horse.

What it's about

A medical student who aspires to be a dancer is sent to summer school in Taiwan, where she learns to open herself up to her passions and the possibility of love.

The take

This is a textbook example of a film with all the right ingredients and the right attitude, but ultimately no game plan for what to do with its material. The first half of Love in Taipei does a good job of setting an inviting tone: a confident cast, attractive locations and production design, and dynamic direction that helps make this expensive summer school program feel more like an adventure. But once the pieces are in place and certain romantic connections are established, the film almost instantly loses its charisma and any sense of a plot. Conflict is introduced then painted over within the span of minutes, and the characters undergoing completely unearned growth without doing much of anything. Even the film's backdrop of the differences between children of the diaspora and those who remain rooted in traditional Taiwanese culture is reduced to hollow window dressing.

What stands out

He doesn't get much to do in the film, but Ross Butler's genius heartthrob character Rick emerges from this as probably the only person to come off like a fully rounded human being. The tension he feels with around his well-to-do parents who expect much from him (and still keep in touch with his ex, without him knowing) is familiar stuff, but still could've probably powered a separate movie on its own. But what's most interesting about Rick is his maturity; without giving anything away, the love triangle that's hinted at in the film's promotional materials doesn't go down the way you think—a refreshing change that the movie could've definitely pursued if it didn't flatline in the second half.

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