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Love in Taipei Movie Review: Hey, Taipei! Where are you?

Love in Taipei Movie Review: Romcom stories, especially the ones which are set in during a vacation are quite interesting to indulge in. When a protagonist visits a foreign place they explore that region, meet the locals, and experience the culture. When a reader picks up a book outlining those adventures, they join the ride from the comfort of their reading nooks.

When such stories get adapted on screen, it becomes a visual treat to see those places and those experiences. Today, we will be looking over one such movie which tells the story of a young adult flown down to the city of Taipei, Taiwan. Love in Taipei is adapted from the novel Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen. The movie was released on Paramount+ on August 10, 2023.

Love in Taipei Trailer

Love in Taipei Movie Review – Love In Taipei Cast

Love in Taipei tells the story of Ever Wong, a young twenty-something girl who is about to join a pre-med college. During the summer vacation before her pre-med college begins, her parents arrange for her to go to Taipei in Taiwan to learn more about their culture, mother tongue, calligraphy and other arts and crafts. Ever is reluctant, but goes anyway so as to not disappoint her parents. Upon landing in Taipei, she is met with many other Chinese students of her age. Each is a prodigy in their own right, but the situation at the institution is anything but serious. Each student has come there to have a break from their parents and the stressful nature of academics. 

As a person, Ever is shy and reserved. She barely has any friends or social life. She is awkward when approached by Sophie on the bus. Sophie is bubbly and outgoing to Ever’s shy and reserved personality. They two share a room, and upon Sophie’s insistence, she decides to break the rules. She heads out almost every day in a week to party and experience life in Taipei, outside of the summer program’s curriculum.

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Ever meets with Frederick “Rick” and Xavier, who are interesting in their own right. Rick is a piano prodigy and also the star within their community, Xavier is more of a free spirit and the one known to break rules at every possible turn. He is a rebel at home and at school. Ever grows close to each of them in her own sweet time. What happens during Ever’s two month-stay in Taipei forms the whole story of this film. Let’s talk a look at Love in Taipei movie review.

Love in Taipei Movie Review - A still from 'Love in Taipei'. Credits: IMDB
Love in Taipei movie review. A still from ‘Love in Taipei’. Credits: IMDB

When you have marketed a movie titled “Love in Taipei”,  you would expect to see the city of Taipei in addition to the romance story, right? But that is not the case with this movie. We barely get to see the city of Taipei, most of it is just zoomed landscapes, or scenes from the campus. There are two main montages that would serve as an ideal peak into life in Taipei, but sadly it is reduced to song sections that are only a few minutes long and look like the scenes are hastily put together.

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There is a turn in the story, with the warning of a typhoon. There are warnings that the typhoon might affect the coastal areas but not much of the city. But it did. Ever was on that day recording for her dance audition at her aunt Shu’s studio. Aunt Shu is Ever’s mom’s sister. She has led her life on her own terms, traveling the world and indulging in art. Ever aspires to be free-spirited like her aunt. 

When her aunt leaves for the day, she reminds Ever to lock the windows. On that day, Rick’s uncle and aunt host a party to which Rick takes Ever as a date. As Ever rushes for the party, she forgets to lock the windows. You don’t need to guess what happens next. After the party, and a couple of events later, Ever heads back to the campus. When she wakes up the next day, she remembers her aunt’s reminder and runs toward the studio. 

The studio is utterly destroyed and the artwork stored within is also damaged. Ever’s apology to her aunt does not feel even remotely genuine. This is not to discredit the character’s regret. But the delivery falls flat. It feels like a dialogue read off of a paper, as do most dialogues in the film.

Love in Taipei Movie Review - Just A Library
Love in Taipei Movie Review. A still from ‘Love in Taipei’. Credits: IMDB

Coming to the rom-com aspect of this movie, there seems to be an utter lack of chemistry between the leads. While we hear Sophie drone about the modern ways of dating and testing the waters before “hooking up”, it also comes to light how the idea of romance is reduced to one kiss without much of a chemistry buildup. The hugs are awkward at best, and any attempt to bring the leads together fails. 

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Asian households are known to put pressure on their children to excel in any career they choose. Nothing less than a  straight As report card is acceptable. This narrative is now going through a slow but steady change with parents understanding that their children are individuals and must have likes and dislikes of their own. One such incident of parents or relatives thinking lowly of an education anything other than what they think is high standard is highlighted in the movie. At a party hosted by Rick’s uncle and aunt, Rick introduces them to Ever. They descend into an awkward silence when Ever mentions that her father works in a pharmacy. 

Rick, despite his prodigy image, is still a puppet dancing to the tunes of societal norms. Ever is disappointed in Rick’s behavior and the two call off their summer romance. This dismissal of romance is also awkward and just a few minutes after that separation, Ever is in the arms of Xavier. Here, the audience feels that finally Ever is going to the right guy, but she runs away after the kiss muttering ‘I am sorry’. Another bummer when it comes to romcom in this romcom movie.

When a person is named ‘Ever’ there are bound to be jokes and puns. When Xavier and Ever first meet on their dorm rooftop, Xavier confirms her name by asking “Forever Ever?”. Then, when Ever hangs out with Sophie and her friends, they dub her “Never Ever” because she keeps on saying no to any and every socializing activity. These nicknames, if you will, can also be considered as a foreshadowing of Ever’s relationship with Xavier and Rick. At the end of the movie, we see that Ever and Xavier shares an awkward kiss and are hinted at being together signaling their “forever”. Whereas Rick and Ever broke up because of their social differences, making them “never”.

For a movie boasting a decorated star cast and a promising travel romance, it fails to deliver its promise. The character arcs are not fully developed. The events are a mishmash of hastily put montages and side stories sprinkled in between. If anything, Auntie Shu was a saving grace for she showed some potential and served as a catalyst for Ever talking to her parents about what she actually wants. 

Verdict – JAL Rating

Love in Taipei

“Love in Taipei” might be something, but for this author, it definitely was not a fulfilling experience. JAL gives “Love in Taipei” a 4 out of 10 flier mile points. 

4
JAL Score
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Nandini Iyengar
Nandini Iyengar
A writer and translator by profession, Nandini is also known for using a lot of pun.

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“Love in Taipei” might be something, but for this author, it definitely was not a fulfilling experience. JAL gives “Love in Taipei” a 2 out of 5 flier mile points. Love in Taipei Movie Review: Hey, Taipei! Where are you?

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