12-year-old Mei grew up with her grandparents in the mountains, but now lives with her parents in the city. Her parents constantly fight and she ignored at home. Mei withdraws into her own world and imagination. One day Mei meets transfer student Jay. Mei takes a liking to Jay who seems as withdrawn to the world as Mei. After Mei saves Jay from bullies their friendship becomes real. As Mei home life worsens and her parents make an announcement, Mei turns to Jay and plan their escape.
Based from the illustrated book of the same name by artist Jimmy Liao, Starry Starry Night presents a magical coming-of-age tale concerning the lost of innocence and the difficulties of that come with eventually growing up. While many films in the past have dealt with similar material, Starry Starry Night remains compelling through its thoughtful premise, artistic direction, and delightful young cast. With the likes of Josie Xu and Eric Lin as the protagonists, the young talent here do a splendid job in eliciting the necessary chemistry needed to carry the film’s story—a story which centers on the complicated and conflicted emotions that young adults face through the experiences of bullying, divorcing parents, and emerging hormones. While these suggested themes may appear as far too grandiose to encompass one film, director Tom Lin easily brings about a great deal of attention towards constructing significant moments from the view—or in many cases, the imagination—of the film’s adolescent characters.
With set pieces that blur the line between reality and the imagination, the film depicts the emotional journey of its two protagonists as both trying and liberating through the film’s creative displays of cinematography and CGI. While other films have stumbled in their combination of such—especially with that of CGI—Starry Starry Night succeeds because it effectively offers up a visionary world of imagination grounded through the passionate angst of the characters real life situations, in turn making such sequences appear as plausible examples of the inner turmoil these characters face. With the film not succumbing to relying too heavily upon CGI or melodrama to expand its story, it offers a great balance between the two in elaborating on the psychological state of its characters. Lin directs the film with a keen eye towards developing the characters through visionary rather than verbal expressions, bringing about an artistic direction that complements the overall film’s dramatic premise. The versatility of Lin as a director is certainly visible here, with plenty of captivating moments that let us into the minds of Mei and Jay, seen both as young people having to confront challenging familial and social issues.
Josie Xu and Eric Lin do a great job in portraying such emotionally damaged but innocent characters. The film is seemingly built around the strengths of these two young actors, but it’s never totally inside the realm of completely being fantasy to alienate viewers looking for a truthful drama regarding issues some young adults face. Merging real life situations with that of the imaginary is where the film delivers in strides, with the film being greatly reserved considering all the fantastical elements found throughout. With an endearing cast, entertaining premise, and terrific direction by Tom Lin, Starry Starry Night is one film that nicely combines the artistry and thoughtfulness to make it successful, in turn making Tom Lin one director to look out for.