Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 16th December 2012
Released on DVD across Asia
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Being one of Michele Chen’s (“You are the Apple of My Eye”) earlier works, “Tempest of First Love” is a light hearted attempt of a film, that tries to dig deep, but never truly convinces or connect with the audience. Chen and Tony Yang performs well as does the cheating couple (Vicky Chen Hsiao-Hsua and Tong Chi-Wai), but as a film, Taiwanese debutant director Chiang Foung-Hon leaves too many uncharted territories.
I must admit that I watched this film after garnering interest in following more of Michelle Chen’s works after the success of “You are the Apple of My Eye”, so I am technically a bandwagon. In one of her earlier work “Tempest of First Love”, Chen plays a similar character, an university student finding her way in life, except this time coming with the twist of spying on her mum’s extramarital affairs. There is no problem with the film’s premises, but unfortunately it never truly takes off and for better or for worst, nothing unbelievable really happened, before a finale that seems all too mushy washy for my personal liking.
Michelle Chen is a decent actress and you can tell that there is a flair and screen presence about her that make her a likeable character that the audience will want to follow. Unfortunately her chemistry with Tony Yang is largely ineffective, as there is little sparks or minimal romantic connection between them. In contrast, Vicky Chen Hsiao-Hsua and Tong Chi-Wai shines through respectively as the cheating couple and shares a hidden fire and passion beneath them that is both subtle and utterly believable to imagine. The love between the two is that of pure, like first love, but as everyone goes on in life will realise, it is also precisely the reason why it will not work out. Lin Chung-Jen plays the unsuspecting father is especially decent as the supportive husband, despite knowing that something is wrong with his wife, he still spurns out words to his daughter “No matter, I just have to believe her or else, the family will be broken.” The moment when he hugs his wife with undeniable support is most likely one of the best moments in the film.
Director Chiang Foung-Hon presents a beautiful view of Taiwan with wonderful scenery and mixing up between the old and the new. The black and white scenes are well-shot as are the romancing moments between Vicky Chen Hsiao-Hsua and Tong Chi-Wai. In many ways, the film should really focus more on the cheating extramarital couple with their motivation, happenings and the undeniable regret that they share. In that, the film wastes valuable time in anchoring the unconvincing relationship between Chen and Yang. Sure, youth certainly sells, but in terms of good film making, this is most certainly a wasted opportunity.
All in all, “Tempest of First Love” is a largely uneven film that tries extremely hard to depict the impact of first love, everlasting regret, modern day marriage and how people deals with the knowledge of their parent’s infidelity. It is a film that could have dealt with all of the above issues in greater detail. Instead, the director took the easier route, by skimming through all these issues. The effect is simple, a film that nothing substantial really happened and the audience finding it hard to relate towards. “Tempest of First Love” is not a bad film, but it just focuses on most of the wrong things. (Neo 2012)
I rated it 5/10