Thursday, 26 July 2012

You Are the Apple of My Eye (2011)

It's still too early to say but I might have found the movie that I'd repeatedly watch this year. It's only July, after all. But You Are the Apple of My Eye has all the elements in a movie that makes my heart beat fast and makes me scream for more. I don't think I'd be able to watch anything that would make me feel the same way. It's too short. Too short not because the ending was rushed. Too short because my crashed soul doesn't want the story to end. It's that good and painfully adorable, that I just want it to keep on going forever.

It's the year 1996 and Ko-Teng (Ko Chen-Tung) is only 16 years old, a senior in high school. He, along with his four other friends, has a crush on the smartest student in class, Shen Chia-Yi (Michelle Chen). The five of them has different ways of pursuing her, but for Ko-Teng, competing with her and annoying her endlessly are the only things he could do. After doing something foolish in class, Ko-Teng's punishment is to sit in front of Shen Chia-Yi so that she can scold him everytime he's doing something inappropriate. Shen Chia-Yi challenges Ko-Teng's intelligence that pushes him to do better in school. It's the start of a decade of competing with each other and falling deep in like.

(And yes, I write the sloppiest synopses.)

First of all, I just want to say that the best way to watch this movie is to start with no expectations and to NOT READ SPOILERS. Because you'll be surprised, enthralled and every other adjective you can think of, if you watch this movie for what it is (it is lovely, btw) and nothing more.

Ko-Teng and Shen Chia-Yi's story continues on to college and even adulthood. We see how the two individuals grow as a person, with and without each other. It's a sweet story of falling in love for the first time, and trying to be a better person to keep that love going. It's about making mistakes and taking the full blow of the consequences of one's action (or non-action). It's about having the courage to own up and to try to make it better. It's about learning that no amount of fixing can fix something broken. It's about regrets and what-if's and endless bickering and misunderstandings. It's about choosing to be happy through it all and realizing that life moves on, even without your first love.

The movie is based on Giddens Ko's, semi-autobiography of the same title. This movie also happens to be his directorial debut. Reading about the production and casting of the movie gives  me the shivers. So this is based on a true story, and they didn't even change the names of the character. One of the reasons they casted Michelle Chen is her resemblance with the real Shen Chia-Yi. The movie was filmed on the school the real story happened and Shen Chia-Yi's best friend, Hu Chia-Wei. Two of the songs used in the movie are even sung by Michelle Chen and Ko Chen-Tung for a more personal approach. (You can read the full details here.)

They really hit the jackpot with the casting. There seems to be a natural chemistry between the Michelle Chen and Ko Chen-Tung, that it makes the movie even better to watch. And thus, I will cry myself every night because of the innocence and beauty of this movie. It speaks so much truth because it's everybody's story. It's my story. It's your story. It's every high school student's venture into that treacherous place of being in love.

"People always say that the most wonderful time in a relationship happens before it really happens. When the two people are together, the magic vanishes," Shen Chia-Yi mentions in the movie. WHY SHEN CHIA-YI WHY. Well, I'm not sure if what she said is true, but in their what-happened-before-it -happened, it was definitely magical.

I am afraid to continue this rant, knowing that I might spoil it for others who haven't watched it yet. But I can't help it. I'm over-flowing with so much emotions right now. So if you don't like spoilers, stop reading!

What I really like about You Are the Apple of My Eye is how it seems to perfectly explore the thrills and pangs of first love. It perfectly illustrates how some people are afraid to go the next level and end up being the what-if's of each other. That's the case for Ko-Teng and Shen Chia-Yi. Believe me, I do not want that to happen to them but it did. They didn't reach the next step of what could have been a rollercoaster of a relationship. But they move on. They remain friends. And whatever happens to the other person, they are happy for each other.

This movie is just bittersweet but the characters make sure that you won't be extremely bitter. It just has the right amount of sweet that will make you smile (and giggle, if you may) but never exasperated. It's humorous (and obnoxious) without overdoing it. It's less than two hours long and a part of me wishes there's more.

The second thing I like about the movie is how it employs creative story-telling. It somehow feels like a friend is telling you a story, and not just some random actor in a movie. It feels so familiar, how one scene shifts to another. A part of you knows what's going to happen next, yet you're excited to see it for yourself. This movie seems to have come out of somebody's life story.

At the end of the movie, I could only clutch at my heart and stop myself from sobbing. To say that this movie has affected me is an understatement. With so many things that happened, it seems incredible that they managed to fit everything in less than two hours. It's almost impossible to believe that they managed to fit a decade of laughter, growing up, and romance in just an hour and forty-five minutes. But this story doesn't dwell. This movie doesn't drag. It tells you how it is; and you can only watch and listen.

And I can assure you, I will watch and listen again. For how many more times, that I do not know.


  1. I agree! just watched it for the first time today and i loved it. but its so sad to see them didnt end up together. sigh

    1. I was really frustrated with the ending, too. But what can we do, it's based on a true story :(


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