Directed by Hsieh Chun-yi
Contemporary romantic comedy, 88′
Hsieh Chun-yi’s directorial debut comes in the form of the romantic comedy ‘Apolitical Romance’. Produced as a collaborative effort between Taiwan and China, the film is a sweet and charming affair that relies more on comedy than on romance to carry the film, which allows the chemistry between the two leads to shine.
The key behind the success of this film is in the lead performances from Huang Lu and Bryan Chang. Both actors breathe life into their roles, they manage to range from arguments to comedy to sensitive without ever making it feel as though the scatter-shot story is dictating their actions.
The contrasting characteristics never feel forced, with Lu’s loud and brash and Qin Lang playing the antithesis with Chang’s quiet Chen Yu-cheng. Both characters undergo the generic development, enriching them as people and giving them much better depth, however rather than feeling crass or clichéd, this allows the relationship built between them to feel more realistic and natural.
As the beating heart of the film, the relationship between the leads is crucial, and Chang and Lu do an engaging job in carrying this off with easy charm and energy.
‘Apolitical Romance’s soundtrack has a surprisingly dominant presence in the film. In particular the songs used throughout the film (performed by Huang Lu) add a great deal to the atmosphere and rather than subtracting from the dynamic constructed between the two characters, it really serves to enhance it. It is an interesting choice to include vocal songs as a part of the main soundtrack, yet works surprisingly well here.
As ‘Apolitical Romance’ is the first film from Hsieh Chun-yi, and perhaps a sense of nativity was to be expected. However, to the director’ s credit, he brings to life a romantic comedy that does not lack charm, humour or a genuine sense that we are watching the formation of a realistic relationship. While perhaps the plot is a little thin, the characters more than make up for it. If ‘Apolitical Romance’ is just the start of Hsieh Chun-yi’s career, then the industry can look forwards to his next film with some degree of anticipation.
Review by Hannah Albone