If Au Revoir Raipei has taught me anything, it is that the film that presents Taipei as a place just as romantic as a place as Paris. No explosions or gratuitous violence to be seen, the film is a romantic comedy where love affairs are thrown in with gangsters, cops, chases etc. Never have I felt closer to Taiwan before without actually being there. This movie does the best job at capturing what real life in Taipei is like. This is both a strong point and a strike against the film as the landscape overshadows most aspects of the film. The characters are mostly likable but if one is expecting some deeper characterizations, they won’t find it here.
When it comes down to the nitty gritty, it is basically a simple love story takes place over the course of one evening in Taipei. On the one hand, you have a female lead who is completely endearing to the audience and you can easily understand why he-would-be-into-her. The other way? Makes no sense at all. Given this is a simple love story perhaps some of the extreme details were overlooked. Yet the tale becomes intertwined as he gets involved with others who have their own ambitions, and through them, you understand that the main characters are in different stages of love. Meanwhile, a neighborhood gangster, Bao Ge, near retirement, and fronting a legitimate real estate business, has fallen in love and agrees to one more score before he’s done.
Is too much of the film derivative? Not entirely, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t want this level of creativity and execution now being seen abroad, back in the States. Most romcoms in the United States are paint by number boring, yet this has Gangsters, night markets, heartache, romance, and silliness, are some of the great aspects of Taiwan. It not only turns out to be a discreet relationship building experience for Kai and Susie, but a relevant episode in which the lives of colorful, humorous supporting characters converge.
The camera-work is clean and simple because the story is clean and simple. Again, capturing what real life in Taipei is like is surely not an easy feat but this film pulls it off effortlessly. Sure, the plot is fluffy, but it isn’t such a bad thing to feel light as a feather once in a while. The warm, loving and charming, dare we say it, personalities of the city are engagingly caught on camera lens to complement the story plot. In the end, the contents of the mysterious package is unveiled, surprising everyone, and Kai finds love again in an unexpected place — right at home in Taipei. Horray for happy endings!