New York Premiere
99 minutes, in Mandarin with English subtitles
Directed by: Tom Lin
Starring: Xu Jiao, Lin Hui-min
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Tuesday, July 3 @ 3:30pm (buy tickets)
How many houses contain a family like Mei’s? Everything is neat and tidy, everyone is polite and icy, and everything is cold, and everyone is drifting away from each other, and her parents are about to get a divorce, and it’s like the end of the world. At school she can’t fit in, at home she can’t stop freezing to death, and the only place she can go is deep inside, creating her very own fantasy world full of living origami animals, where the colors are brighter, and the sun won’t stop shining. Finally she forges a tenuous human connection with Jay (Eric Lin), a transfer student as ostracized as she is, and the two of them run away to her beloved grandfather’s house. And that is when she discovers that just as there’s a piece missing from her, there’s a piece missing from Jay, too.
Based on Jimmy Liao’s much-loved illustrated novel, STARRY STARRY NIGHT is a beautifully shot movie that gives audiences a painfully clear-eyed depiction of a 13-year-old girl who’s watching her life fall apart. Starring Stephen Chow’s daughter from CJ7 (Xu Jiao, now all grown up) as Mei, and newcomer Eric Lin as Jay, the film’s also anchored by senior thesps Rene Liu playing Mei’s heartbroken mother, and Kenneth Tsang playing her grandfather. The visuals shimmer with a magic realist sheen, and Japanese electronica act, World’s End Girlfriend (who did the soundscape for NYAFF hit Late Bloomer) turn in a rapturous, swooning score. And you know it’s going to be good with Chen Kuo-fu producing (he wrote Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, and produced If You Are the One).
A popular hit when it was released in Taiwan, STARRY STARRY NIGHT occasionally comes close to being too precious, but always pulls back just in time. Besides, if any movie deserves a bit of your indulgence, it’s this one, that is so honest about all the painful, beautiful, horrible, breathtaking things that happen when you’re thirteen years old and your whole world is falling apart, leaving a new one called adulthood in its place. We try not to use this word very often, but this movie is truly magical.