A sweet and well-constructed story blending coming-of-age, romance, and cross-cultural themes, this film is appealing on multiple levels.
One of Love in Taipei's greatest strengths is its earnest depiction of how immigrants and their children can feel "torn between two of everything" -- cultures, languages, countries, homes. In the case of Ever and the other young people in the tale, that stretches to include life choices, career paths, and romantic partners, all informed by their loyalty and obligations to families who have sacrificed for them and hold cemented ideas of how their lives should go. It's a duality many people in their teens and early twenties can probably relate to.
Though this film has that broader appeal, Taipei and Taiwanese culture are given central billing. The city is on glorious display, with the main character experiencing it -- and its sights and food -- through new eyes.
Sometimes that enjoyment can feel didactic and over-packaged. The film also shortchanges its secondary characters -- the other people at the summer school who are always there but never really introduced. These flaws can be overlooked because the main cast is so likeable and the messages so positive.
The film's soundtrack charmingly mixes English and Mandarin tunes. In a self-aware wink, a character early on nudges another: "This isn't the 90s… Everyone knows Asians are cool now." It's a nod to the many Asian and Asian American films, series, and talents crossing over to global audiences in recent years. This film should add to the mix.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.
Images courtesy of Paramount+.