Love in Taipei is a funny and romantic movie on Paramount+ with not much of a plot. It’s about a young woman exploring her culture, making new friends, and falling in love. The film is based on a popular book called Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen and is directed by Arvin Chen. It’s a cute movie, but it follows a familiar pattern when it comes to exploring cultural identity.
Produced by the same team behind Netflix‘s XO, Kitty, this movie tells the story of Ever Wong (Ashley Liao), a young American woman. She goes to Taiwan for a summer program, even though she’s not thrilled about spending her vacation in school. Surprisingly, she finds out that many students are excited about what they call ‘the loveboat’.
Ever’s parents have always wanted her to become a doctor, but she has different dreams. It’s hard for her to explain this to her parents, who have made sacrifices for her to have a better life in the USA. She meets Rick (Ross Butler), who is nicknamed Boy Wonder and seems perfect at everything. However, he’s also struggling with family expectations. Then there’s artist Xavier (Nico Hiraga), who spots Ever dancing alone on a roof and always makes an effort to talk to her whenever he can.
Not Much Love..
It pains me to say this, but the romance between Ever and both male leads just didn’t seem to develop convincingly. For most of the movie, she’s with Rick, and then suddenly she’s fully invested in Xavier. Ever and Rick share cute foodie dates, but their connection feels more like friends than a romantic couple. And with Xavier, they hardly build a relationship beyond a few glances and a couple of chats before they’re suddenly together. Both the characters are given the most alluring and romantic scene in the entire movie. It’s a beautiful shot, yet it is wasted due to their poorly established connection. True romantic chemistry requires more than just smiles across a room or playful moments in a cooking class. What we see is more like a staged show of romance rather than something authentic and heartfelt.
Surprisingly, the most compelling relationship in Love from Taipei isn’t a romantic one; it’s the bond between Ever and her Aunt Shu (Cindy Cheung). Aunt Shu, owns an art gallery, guides Ever to embrace the present instead of fixating on her future. Cindy’s performance is a delightful blend of humor and wisdom, making her presence shine in every scene she was in.
Actors Didn’t Do Well Either
Ashley Liao, gave a performance that was, well, just okay. It felt like she was relying on cue cards for her lines, with those awkward pauses before sentences and a noticeable absence of emotion in her delivery. By the way, she’s apparently 21 years old but both her acting and the writing fail to convey any sense of maturity beyond that of Kitty from XO, Kitty.
Xavier and Rick didn’t exactly burst with flavor either. Nico Hiraga as Xavier managed to sprinkle a bit more emotion into his acting, but not by a whole lot. As for Ross Butler as Rick, well, if you’ve seen any other teen movie or TV show he’s been in, you pretty much know the drill.
Honestly, they should have gone for a series instead of cramming it into an hour and a half movie. There’s a ton that feels like it’s missing, and a heap of unanswered questions. Sure, it’s great that the trip helps Ever find her footing, but Love in Taipei movie could’ve put in more effort to hook the audience and make them care about her journey.