Director: Arvin Chen
Taipei is a gorgeous city at night. Writer/Director Arvin Chen obviously knows this, and reveals this (poorly kept) secret to the world in his debut feature Au Revoir Taipei. This unrelentingly adorable film focuses on a single night in the titular city, following a young man named Kai (Jack Yao) and his quest to win back his ex-girlfriend who is studying in Paris. This involves him acquiring a one-way plane ticket to his former love, which he can only get with assistance from a local “made man” who is quietly trying to go legit. With the help of his tall but meek friend Gao (literally “high”), and the mousy but surprisingly forward Susie, Kai dodges wanna-be gangsters in bright orange suits with only one thing on his mind: love.
The leads may be a capable, adorable couple but the city is the true star. The film captures eloquently some of the most charming aspects of the city: the multicolored broadways, the lush night markets, the hedge maze that is the Eslite main store. Au Revoir Taipei is a caper that is constantly interrupted by the city’s many treats. Kidnappers take a side route to pick up some dumplings. A chase through the park is stopped by the neighborhood midnight exercise squad. A conversation between gangsters is interrupted by the loud slurping of beef noodle soup. It’s quintessential Taipei.
A perfectly balanced hybrid of Wong Kar Wai’s chaotic urbanism and Wes Anderson’s quirky cadence, Au Revoir Taipei is a universally enjoyable movie, a strong first film and an endearing document on the natural charm of Taipei, a city that never sleeps.
Au Revoir Taipei was screened at the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival and can be seen on these dates:
June 12th – Kirkland Performance Center @ 6:00 PM
June 13th – Pacific Place Cinema @ 9:15 PM