Banana Review: Starry Starry Night

Just when you thought Phil was gone…he strikes again with another BananaTimes review, this time on our upcoming presentation Starry Starry Night.

Writer-director Tom Lin delivers an impressive and ambitious sophomore feature with STARRY STARRY NIGHT, a film adaptation of Jimmy Liao’s popular children’s book starring Josie Xu as the young lead, who many know from Stephen Chow’s CJ7. This Taiwanese fantasy-drama is about Mei, a young girl living in a financially stable family only to witness her parents’ marriage slowly deteriorate. As her parents begin to stray further from each other, Mei finds solace in time spent with her quirky grandfather who constantly reinforces her ever-expanding imagination with his hand-made wooden animals. Mei’s life takes a sorrowful turn when her grandpa falls ill, leaving her without any source of comfort with her parents’ looming divorce. However, she befriends a new student at school, Jay (Eric Lin), who also has trouble in his personal life. Knowing the issues in their respective lives, they take a colorful and whimsical journey into the mountains to find Mei’s grandpa’s rural cottage.

Director Lin achieved something rarely seen in recent Asian cinema with STARRY STARRY NIGHT, using visual effects as an effective narrative and visual device to push forward a captivating story, rather than superficially sprinkling CGI on top of a film to increase marketability. Almost like a cross between a Studio Ghibli film and Woody Allen’s recent Oscar-winning Midnight In Paris, Tom Lin uses a family drama as the backbone to his story as he ambitiously and successfully explores the boundless world of adolescence imagination. Lin tells the tale from the perspective of a young teenage girl and how she sees her everyday life. From adventurous and playful daydreams of your crush’s shadow appearing as a dinosaur, to having a troop of your grandfather’s wooden animals come to life to escort you home.

What STARRY STARRY NIGHT vividly portrayed with great empathy was that sensation you felt as a child where the world was your playground. Everything you saw and touch could easily morph into anything you desired. Even though it originated from your mind, every animated creature and character you saw was real through your eyes because it was you who made them. Growing up there were many things you did not understand, and when life became sad and dark, the one safe thing you could rely on was the limitless energy of your own imagination.

— Reviewed by Philbert Lui

Watch trailer hereStarry Starry Night is screening at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts Friday, March 16, 7:00PM. Tickets available online (until 11:55PM tonight) and at the venue tomorrow beginning 6:00PM.