Taipei may not be a city renowned for romance, but in the hands of writer-director Arvin Chen, Taiwan’s capital is transformed into the Asian equivalent of Paris. Chen was inspired in creating this effervescent and adventurously absurdist love story by the French New Wave, specifically films such as Godard’s Band of Outsiders. The result is an award-winning directorial debut that has charmed festival audiences around the world.
Like Band of Outsiders, Au Revoir Taipei features criminal hijinx and a love triangle, but is composed with a delicate touch. It is entirely appropriate that Taipei begins with the French voiceover of young Kai, who is attempting to write a letter in the Romance language to impress his Paris-bound girlfriend. Kai is a dreamer, and his wish is to join his love in Europe. Meanwhile, at the bookstore Kai frequents, a girl named Susie has her eyes on him, though he is oblivious to this fact. Neither foresees how their relationship will soon develop, as they are thrust into a nighttime chase across neon-lit Taipei by neophyte gangsters. Joining them is Ji-Yong, a handsome young policeman with his own romantic entanglements.
What separates Au Revoir Taipei from other recent Taiwanese productions is how much fun everyone seems to have in the film — and the energy is infectious. The film displays dazzling visuals and energetic cinematography, as well as an appropriately jazzy, French-inflected soundtrack.
Chen is one of the latest Asian Americans who has returned to Asia to forge a film career. What distinguishes him from others is his understanding of Taipei, and the love he clearly has for it.
– Raymond Phathanavirangoon
Cast: Jack Yao, Amber Kuo, Joseph Chang, Lawrence Ko
Arvin Chen is a Chinese American filmmaker based in Taipei, Taiwan, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, he moved to Taipei to apprentice with the late director Edward Yang (Yi Yi), before completing a Masters in film production at the University of Southern California. In 2006, Chen’s short film Mei won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, as well as honours from the Director’s Guild of America and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Au Revoir Taipei (2010) is his feature-length directorial debut.
NETPAC Award – Berlin International Film Festival
Jury Award – Deauville Asian Film Festival
Audience Award, Narrative – San Francisco Asian American International Film Festival
Golden Durian for Best Film – Barcelona Asian Film Festival
Best New Talent (Amber Kuo) – Taipei Film Festival