Love in Taipei
Based on Abigail Hing Wen’s novel Loveboat, Taipei, feel-good rom-com Love in Taipei sees Ever Wong (Ashley Liao) travel to a prestigious summer school in Taiwan, where her overbearing parents expect her to learn about Taiwanese culture before she starts her studies at med school. However, it doesn’t take her long to realise that the school isn’t the intensive programme she was led to believe. Rather, it’s an opportunity for the students to party and hopefully fall in love (hence the school being nicknamed the “loveboat”).
In classic genre fashion, the summer getaway becomes a life-changing experience for Ever in which she forms new friends, attempts to follow her real dream of being a dancer (something she’s kept secret from her parents), and even sparks romantic relationships with the handsome “boy wonder” Rick (Ross Butler) and the mysterious outsider Xavier (Nico Hiraga). Director Arvin Chen leans into the flick’s joyous summer spirit, colouring the neon-lit city skylines and packed street food markets with a euphoric pop soundtrack that matches Ever’s own excitement. It’s impossible not to become swept up in the light-hearted camaraderie and stunning Taipei vistas to have just as much fun as the ensemble cast.
Despite the film’s delightful atmosphere, it, unfortunately, plays everything far too safe and formulaic for its own good. The script attempts to add a degree of depth to the characters by alluding to their experiences as Taiwanese immigrants, but these are little more than throwaway lines that are never touched upon again. Rather, Ever’s story follows the conventional rom-com playbook without any deviation from the traditional three-act structure. It likewise doesn’t help that the male leads are as bland and uninteresting as each other. Butler and Hiraga do the best with what they’re given, though their onscreen charms can only do so much to give the impression that their characters have personalities.
Although Love in Taipei’s script is as threadbare as its male leads, there’s nevertheless plenty of fun to be had as Ever’s story reaches its all too predictable resolution.
Love in Taipei is released on 11th August 2023.
Watch the trailer for Love in Taipei here: