There is always a sense of fondness when looking at the short film. Part of that has to do with being exposed too often to ideas and stories forcibly drawn out to meet certain time expectations, so that when one comes across a short film that gets to its point and does it well, it’s always refreshing. Besides which, that sense of a bite of culture without the commitment of a full feature appeals to my capricious, contrary nature.
This certainly does not hurt the reception of the anthology About Love. Made up of three films made by three different directors from three different locales, all ‘About Love’, the problem of do they or don’t they and do I have to sit through this once again never really becomes a cognisant thought.
Of the three, personal preferences lean towards Yee Chiy-Yen’s middle offering set in Taipei. Following the attempted reconciliation of Mavis Fan’s A-Su and her recent ex-boyfriend, there is a definite warmth between the two leads that leads to a little tension but more often adds a certain playfulness to their performances. Most impressive is that, of the three films, this one has the most direct interaction between the two central characters and the greatest attempt to observe cross-language communication.
Ten Shimoyama’s opening film set in Tokyo follows closely. While lacking the direct interaction of the Taiwanese production, there is still a strong exploration of emotion through the art of Ito Misaki’s Ichiko and the friends of Chen Bo-Lin’s Yao and their little struggles. The Tokyo story tends to be more wistful, but then the main leads only meet face to face twice.
Zhang Yibai’s Shanghai contribution was probably the weakest of the three. While feeling the same degree of longing as the Tokyo story, Shanghai’s core premise was the unspoken and tragic love of a teenager, for whom I feel little empathy. While Li Xiaolu’s Yun shows a little maturity in her day to day dealings with Takashi Tsukamoto’s Shuhei and his failed romance at home, her romantisisation of him is not something I find worth exploring short of remembering how dumb one can be as a teenager.
About Love holds together as a whole quite well and is quite entertaining nonetheless. Apart from the central ‘About Love’ theme, all the stories show their characters falling out of love as they find love once again in a few of its guises. Not the most challenging material but definitely sufficient to generate enough warm fuzzies to get you through to the next day.