review by Neo
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Director Leste Chen has ventured into an unlikely genre with a brave heart, but the results are another matter. It is a film that attempts to be compelling, emotional and consequential, but ultimately it fails to connect with the audience. The film itself is like a beautiful image, filled with daring performances, outstanding direction and lighting, but somehow it falls short and perhaps ending up being quite lacking. Putting together two relatively unknown male leads enhance the credibility of the film by being more believable and surprisingly they handed their respective roles with suitable bravery and emotionally performed. Coming from the lush of fame from the arty 20:30:40, Kate Yeung is suitably nature and a potential filled performance worthy of noting.
The movie goes like this: The film opens with elementary school kid Jonathan (Bryant Chang), ordered by the teacher to befriend his classmate Shane (Joseph Chang). Since then, they have shared every episode in their lives until Carrie (Kate Yeung) becomes their high school classmate...
It is still a mystery, as to the prime reason why the movie never seem to connect to Neo, perhaps it is the subject matter it is dealing with, but the film is ultimately distant and leaving far too many stones unturned in the process. Some twists like the controversial sex scene is far more shocking and brave than actually affecting and connecting. It is probably safe to say that the script is really a let down, as everything else seems like the product of good cinema. There is no doubt that the filmmaker here is daring and is not afraid to expose edgy issues and there are even scenes that reminds us of a far superior –Wong Kar Wai’s film – Happy Together. Unfortunately this flick never reaches those heights and the effect is more like experimental cinema than actual accomplished cinema.
Still, with all the criticisms the performances of the trio is without doubt the core saviour for the film as they are able to create believable characters and act beyond the material they are given. Byrant Chang handles his role in an outright sympathetic manner with his heart torn between his love for his best friend and his duty to maintain his friendship. He is expressive and subtle at times, creating a performance that is worthy of some recognition. Likewise, Joseph Chang performs extremely well in a complex role, but in a way his performance may well be enhanced by the sudden shocks within the scripts, rather than his actual performance. Nonetheless, he remains a fine young talent. Of the trio, Kate Yeung is given the filling parts or perhaps what Neo calls “a paper thin role”, but somehow, Yeung is able to act beyond her material and resulting in the most natural performance of the trio. She is a bright young talent and despite not being an outright beauty, her talents by far outweigh that minor physical flaw.
All in all, Eternal Summer is by no means a bad movie, and in fact it almost has all the ingredients to set it up as an outright award winning arty film. Unfortunately the film failed to connect and affect to the audience’s emotions, resulting in a finale that is more emotional and tense for the people on screen, rather than the ones looking on. It is ultimately a trying and brave effort and for that alone, it is worthy of giving some sort of credit to. Nonetheless, it is an interesting look into the lives of three tormented souls and the daring performances are alone worthy of a pat on the shoulders for their efforts…
I rate it 7.5/10.
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Starring: Joseph Chang, Byrant Chang, Kate Yeung
Directed by: Leste Chen
Genre: Youth, Coming of Age