Review | Do You Love Me As I Love You movie review: sappy teen romance from Taiwan starring Chen Yuu is sickly sweet
Chen Yuu plays a student obsessed with tarot and in love with her best friend – who is in love with her roommate – in this sappy, stereotypical eye-roller
Although Chen is fun to watch, her character fails to do anything for herself, and the side plots are infinitely more compelling than the main love story
Following Gavin Lin Hsiao-chien’s massive success with 2018’s More Than Blue , a remake of a South Korean melodrama, the Taiwanese writer-director has turned a bestselling novel by celebrity DJ Fourone into another saccharine-sweet movie.
Lin wrote the screenplay to Do You Love Me As I Love You, but handed directorial duties to first-time director Chieh Shueh-bin. Any hopes that the fledgling filmmaker might bring a little spice to the mix are soon extinguished – this sickly sweet romantic comedy is once again populated by emotionally stunted archetypes crafted to appeal to a fan base of inexperienced teens.
Physics student Xiao-xiang (Chen Yuu) is obsessed with tarot cards and fortune-telling, but remains desperately uncertain about her own future. Since kindergarten, she has held a torch for best friend Zhu-hao (Tsao Yu-ning), who remains oblivious to her true feelings. After years of procrastinating, she finally plucks up the courage to tell him, only for Zhu-hao to publicly proclaim his love for Xiao-xiang’s roommate, Yi-jing (Patricia Lin Ying-wei).
An Instagram model with legions of online followers, Yi-jing confirms all our worst suspicions about KOLs. Shallow, insecure, and pretty much the worst in every way, she agrees to date Zhu-hao on condition that he first plays successful matchmaker to the three least likely couples on campus. Mortified by this revelation, Xiao-xiang gamely stands by her BFF, and agrees to help him play cupid to this trio of impossible pairings.
Chen is a delightful screen presence who radiates natural star power and is sure to win over male and female audience members for many years to come. However, her character here is endlessly frustrating – incapable of doing anything for herself, despite her bubbly, eccentric personality. Similarly, the object of her affection is an underwhelming wet fish, with no discernible qualities either to attract or intimidate anyone.
Ironically, the couples Zhu-hao and Xiao-xiang are tasked with bringing together are infinitely more compelling than their own agonising love vacuum. It is fun to see Sophia Li Xing’s ferocious gang boss, who harbours an embarrassing crush on a bookish philosophy student, trigger a maelstrom of violence wherever she goes.
As with Lin’s previous film, a barrage of last-minute revelations upends much that has come before, and there is a gratuitous self-aggrandising cameo from author Fourone as a version of himself. In the end, not even the effortless charm of Chen can save this excruciatingly sappy eye-roller.
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