HIFF Review: ‘Apolitical Romance’
REVIEW BY NANCY ARCAYNA / firstname.lastname@example.org
“Apolitical Romance,” is a typical boy meets girl romantic comedy, with plenty of Chinese politics and cultural differences thrown into the mix.
Spotlight on Taiwan
North American Premiere
Screens at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 and 7:15 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, at Consolidated Koko Marina 8
Chin Lang (Huang Lu) is a sassy, bossy and loud-mouthed Chinese woman. She’s a tourist from China visiting Taiwan in search of her grandmother’s first love, Chen Guang, who fled to Taiwan in 1948 following China’s civil war.
Lang’s quest begins after she loses a bet with her grandmother. The deal is, she must find this long ago suitor or suffer blind dates arranged by grandma.
Chen Yu-Zheng, nicknamed A-Zheng, (Bryan Chang), is a mild-mannered and charming Taiwanese man who works as a civil servant. His kind-hearted ways keep Lang out of trouble while helping him with his own research.
Lang meets A-Zheng when, while ordering dumplings, she has a run in with the store owner by veering from Taiwanese custom. A-Zheng steps in and helps out so he can coerce Lang into helping him prepare the Taiwan-China Cross-Cultural Etiquette Manual, a task his boss has given him one week to complete. He has to research the different social norms in Taiwan and on mainland China and hasn’t a clue how to properly proceed until he meets up with Lang. She agrees to help him write the manual if he assists with her search for Chen Guang.
Throughout their travels, the pair argue whether the two sides should seek reunification; both defending their own governments even as they listen to the tragic tales of elders in their search for Guang. Most of the tales involve families divided by the war between Mao’s Communists and Chiang’s Kuomintang.
The banter between Lang and A-Zheng is entertaining throughout the film. Their chemistry is undeniable so despite their differences, I was rooting for their happily ever after.
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