[CFF] Pick the Youth 皮克青春 (2011) – Taiwan

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@ 2012 Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival

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“I finally realised that Grandpa wasn’t the cage, he is just another bird in the cage, but without the feathers…”

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Although this is a little known Taiwanese film that didn’t do well at the box office, Pick the Youth is a thoroughly enjoyable film that takes the audience back to dream, childhood and music. I remember back when I was in high school, my parents didn’t embrace the idea that I wanted to be a film critic and thought I was definitely wasting my time away by watching and writing about films. It was tough as 17 years old trying to balance HSC and movies, but somehow I managed to come through. In fact back in 2004, I wrote a review for every single Hong Kong productions that year. Thinking back, I do not for one single moment regret my Hong Kong cinema experience and it was that year that defined my passion for films well as knowing more about my roots. Flicking back to this film, it succeeds because it is a personal film that the audience can revoke and relate to. It is a shame that such a film is not embraced by the Taiwanese general audience, but my gain is their loss.

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The film does not rely on strong individual effort, but rather it is a team performance. Every actor from young to old together they managed to reach the final outcome. In particular I thought the father (played by Jonathan Chang – 張克帆) does extremely well in a role similar to the director’s own personal story. (Read Q&A session with the film director) Likewise Gao Man-hua (高曼華) displays plenty of potential and in a way outshine the rest of the youngsters. Despite being her debut performance, there is an air of natural presence that made her a younger version of the mother (played by Francesca Gao – 高慧君).

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All in all, Pick the Youth is a highly underrated film from a director who wanted to share an extremely personal story about father and son and the notion of what is best for them. It is a complicated dilemma that will face most parents in the past, present and future. What is so great about this film is that it doesn’t try to manufacture emotions and uses music as a medium to explain and show one’s passion. Rebellious youth will forever be a topic of interest in coming of age youth cinema, but director Tapu Chen (陳大璞) is able to show a different side. Pick the Youth could well have been just another well-meaning art house flick, but it is more than that, because once you are hooked, you are unlikely to leave your seat. What gave the film extra marks is its ability to make the audience think and somehow revoke their own pursued passion. It is disappointing to say that the film fails to finish off with a bang and fully churn the audience to tears. However, for what it is worth, Pick the Youth is a highly commendable effort and enjoyable film to watch…

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Neo rates it 8.5/10

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Special Note: Special Congrations to director Tapu Chen (陳大璞) for winning the Special Jury Award @ the 2012 Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival!

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