There is something I felt compelled to do whenever I travel and that is to watch a movie at a local cinema. I was in Taipei recently and I went to the biggest cinema in Taiwan — Vieshow Cinemas — which has a whopping 17 screens right next to Taipei 101.
Since I was in Taiwan, I decided to watch a Taiwanese film, 《逆光飛翔》Touch of the Light, that has just been released. I have not heard much about the film except that it won the Audience Choice award in Taipei Film Festival 2012. And oh boy, I was totally blown away by the end of the film. I am not sure if it is the culture of Taiwanese audience to stay until the very end of the credits but nobody left until the rolling credits finished.
Featuring the blind pianist Huang Yu-Siang as himself, the film is a study of how a blind but gifted young man find his way and place in the harsh society. At the college, Huang Yu-Siang bumps into a girl (Chang Yung-yung) who sells bubble tea but dreams of becoming a dancer. Their struggles intertwine and each inspires the other to move closer towards their destiny.
The film has a rather distinct cinematography not commonly seen. Mainly composed of medium and close-up shots with shallow depth of fields, there are plenty of motifs to do with various light sources. The film also has an intentional overexposed look and I guess the director and cinematographer wanted a look that literally follows its film title — Touch of the Light. Another probable reason is for the audience to understand how Huang Yu-Siang feels. Apparently, Huang Yu-Siang is not totally blind and some point-of-view shots seem to suggest the lead character can actually see some very faint light in certain situations.
The rookie director, Chang Jung-Chi, has executed a tremendous debut. There are funny lines where the audience laugh out loud and there are also deeply emotional moments where we share the characters’ ups and downs.
However, the one issue I have is the casting of the female lead, Chang Yung-yung. There is nothing wrong with her acting and in fact, she won the Best Actress Award at Taipei Film Festival with this role. But being of Chinese and French descent, Chang Yung-yung is not too convincing as the female lead character. She is simply too pretty to be selling and delivering bubble tea in my opinion. It is probably better to cast a true-bred Taiwanese Chinese girl who is not stunningly beautiful but charismatic enough to carry the role. That remains my only gripe about the show.
Highly recommended! Must watch!