The big-screen debut of veteran Taiwanese TV drama producer Frankie Chen Yu-shan is a smartly cast, sweetly nostalgic teen romance with juvenile storytelling.
Described as the woman's version of You Are the Apple of My Eye (2011), the semi-autobiographical Asian blockbuster about the first love of author-helmer Giddens Ko, Our Times manages to portray young romance in all its awkward splendor but fails to live up to the narrative sophistication and emotional persuasiveness of the earlier film.
Taiwan's best box-office performer in 2015 so far, it has grossed $12.6 million since mid-August and topped the chart in Hong Kong, beating The Martian upon release. In Singapore and Malaysia, it landed in second place. The film should be able to command a following in niche markets in the U.S., if the current popularity of Asian TV dramas and Asian pop is a reliable indicator.
Chen's roots in TV drama are reflected in the film's penchant for manga-inspired slapstick and cartoonish sidekicks. While this type of humor is not to everyone's taste, the timing and delivery here are spot-on.
Chen also made savvy casting choices. Chien and Lee are fitting as brainy but bland campus eye candy. Chien's acting leaves much to be desired but even that seems to be in character. Vivian Sung and Darren Wang's performances are reasonably nuanced for fresh talent. Wang is not only charming as Hsu Taiyu, but seems to have stepped straight out of the '90s, with his tan, his oozing machismo, bushy eyebrows and Julia Roberts grin.
Time flies, yet there is always a song engraving in your mind; and in the crowd, there is always someone waiting right there for you to turn round.
Youth always starts to glitter for someone.
Or, we always keep watching the back of someone but forget the one with whom we feel comfortable and relaxed, and who strikes us the most.
I wish to be part of your wish.
Thanks for your company in the years of my youth.
When girls say "I'm OK", it actually means "there is something wrong"; when girls say "it's okay?", it actually means "it's not okay".