Aug 28, 2009|
(Taiwan) Hear Me is a Valentine in the grand tradition of Taiwanese romance comics—you know the kind that can give hardened cynics and the glucose-intolerant diabetes. The set up of the story is simple enough: Tian Kuo, a happy-go-lucky young man who works as a delivery boy at his parents’ restaurant is instantly smitten when he sees Yang Yang (Chen), the sister of one of the hearing-impaired swimmers on the Deaflympics team. Cue plenty of flirting over MSN and angst as he tries to muster up the courage to tell her he wants to be her boyfriend. Unfortunately, just as he’s making headway, they have a falling out so cue plenty of moping and yet more angst.
Aside from all this sap, Cheng has chosen to paint idyllic images of modern Taipei, glossing over inconvenient questions such as: How is it possible for anyone to support themselves, let alone two people, as a busker (that’s what Yang Yang does to earn a living)? Why is the girls’ father working in Africa as a missionary—aren’t there enough disenfranchised people in Taiwan to help?
However, before you write it off, know that Hear Me is actually quite refreshing, especially when compared to recent dismal Hollywood offerings such as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Couples Retreat and Did You Hear About the Morgans? There is something to be said about the silence that comes from having most of the dialogue between the two conducted in sign language (you’ll see why), not least the fact that you don’t have to endure any simpering baby talk. Maybe Ronan Keating was right when he warbled, “You say it best when you say nothing at all.”
Stealing the show from the two leads are veteran actor and actress Luo Bei An and Lin Mei Hsiu, who are hilarious as Tian Kuo’s parents. However, you do wish that there was more for Michelle Chen to do as Yang Yang’s sister, Xiao Peng, other than playing the quasi-tragic character who is hospitalized after an accident and booted off the swim team.
Having said that, the real star of this movie (for me, anyway) is really the bentos (packed lunches) that Tian Kuo delivers. I already had dinner before watching the movie but Quiznos is no match for the telegenic qualities of the braised chicken leg and pickled mustard greens on rice that Tian Kuo prepares for his lady love. It looked so good I spent the better part of the next day googling air fares to Taiwan.