USA / TAIWAN 2010  Directed & Written by: Arvin Chen Produced by: Wim Wenders, In-Ah Lee, Wei-Jan Liu, Oi Leng Lui  Cinematography: Michael Fimognari  Editing: Justin Guerrieri Cast: Jack Yao, Amber Kuo, Hsiao-Chuan Chang, Ko Yu-Len

AU REVOIR TAIPEI takes place over the course of a single evening in Taipei: Kai, whose girlfriend has left for Paris dumps him over the phone. Hoping to be able to visit her he had spent most of his nights at a bookstore studying French, which now comes in handy as he plans to fly to Europe and get her back. It happens that a local mafia boss offers him a job in return for a plane ticket – taking a mysterious package with him to Paris –, and so a series of events is set in motion during which Kai and a friend of his are getting in the middle of a double-crossing game between the nephew of the mobster and the mafia boss himself, while at the same time Kai and Susie, who is a staff at the bookstore, are being chased by a local detective who believes they are involved in an international criminal operation. At the end of the night everyone’s life will take a new direction.

AU REVOIR TAIPEI follows a familiar concept, but it has its own charm: unpretentious instead of overly intellectual, Arvin Chen’s debut feature captures the tristesse of Taipei and puts it into stark contrast to the dreams and aspirations of Taiwan’s youth. From Kai who works in his parents’ noodle shop to his friend doing night shifts at the convenience store or Susie who finds her inspirations at the bookstore, everyone’s in pursuit of happiness but isn’t sure where exactly to find it.

As much as I like AU REVOIR TAIPEI and find it unassuming, there also can be no doubt that it is CHUNGKING EXPRESS light. Moreover it is at least a 3rd generation copy as in between 1994 and today there have been numerous attempts to ride the wave Wong-Kar Wai had started back then. Thing is, that some of the better films like LOVE IS NOT A GAME, BUT A JOKE (1997) have simply more personality and a better cast, let alone more inventive script.

AU REVOIR TAIPEI never really explores the human complexity: neither does it show the characters’ multiple facets, nor does any of what happens have a real impact on the protagonists, leading to a change of mind or a process of self-reflection (we witness the beginning of that at best). It’s all just really “nice” and harmless; there are no archetypes that function as a mirror for the audience, only guys and girls with their own problems.

While AU REVOIR TAIPEI is likable entertainment it ranks very low on the relevancy scale: it’s a far cry from the original and Taiwan’s more reputable films alike. Sandwiched between the genuine and the masterful, it is a vintage too young to make a lasting impression.


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