Fri, Feb 07, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Not much love to be found at the 7-Eleven

Picking up on what has virtually become a symbol of Taipei's hectic lifestyle, director Teng Yung-hsing creates appealing images of urban romance but fails to tell a story

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Huang Pin-yuan plays the main character in Teng Yung-hsiung's debut film Love at 7-11.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TENG YUNG-HSING

To many who live in Taipei, the 24-hour 7-Eleven convenience store is an integral part of daily life, especially for those who live alone or who keep unusual hours. Almost everyone knows a 7-Eleven clerk in their neighborhood store, a person they say "hi" to every day, often seeing them more regularly than friends or relatives. Obviously there is huge potential for interesting developments between customers and 7-Eleven clerks.

Teng Yung-hsing's (鄧勇星) debut feature film Love at 7-11 (7-Eleven之戀) is based on this idea. The story has been adapted from Tsai Chih-heng's (蔡智恆) Internet story of the same name.

Love at 7-11 tells the story of a composer and film writer and his encounter with a girl who takes care of his daily purchases at the 7-Eleven store.

Teng adds two of his own storylines to enrich this rather slender conceit -- the filmmaker's fascination with a Japanese geisha and another college student's romance with a Japanese girl in Taiwan studying Chinese.

Together Teng has created a endearing romance within the urban solitude of his characters' lives, but the three stories fail to connect and the audience never really becomes engaged with the characters or their emotions.

Tsai (Huang Pin-yuan), the main character, works nights and sleeps during the day. Before going to sleep he always visits the nearby 7-Eleven to buy a rice ball and low-fat milk. He has a very regular schedule. One day, the piggy bank in which he collects coins breaks and so he starts to make all his purchases with coins.

Hsiao-feng (Ko Huan-ju), a new member of staff at 7-Eleven, notices this guy who always uses coins and comes to the shop at 10:30am every day. She writes about this guy in her diary, calling him "Mr. Low-fat Milk."

Film Notes:

Love at 7-11 (Seven-11之戀)

Director by: Teng Yung-shing

Starring: Huang Pin-yuan (黃品源), Ko Huan-ju (柯奐如), Wu Ke-chun (吳克群), Ayako Washitake

Running Time: 97 mins

Language: Mandarin with English subtitles

Taiwan Release: Tomorrow


Tsai is working on a documentary about a geisha called Kikuliu who lives in Kyoto. As he goes over the tapes he begins to realize an affection for her. He writes a song called "Raincoat" in memory of that special interview in Japan with her. Meanwhile, a Tainan college student is having a language exchange with a Japanese girl, Ameko, who has just retired from being a geisha. Unsurprisingly, intimacy leads to romance. Ameko tells the college student of a quaint Kyoto custom -- when a boy wants to show his love for a girl, he asks her to share a raincoat with him.

At the same time, when Hsiao-feng's slacker boyfriend comes to the 7-Eleven looking for her, he bumps into Mr. Lo-fat Milk.

Before making this film, Teng was a senior director of commercials for many years. He shows confidence in expressing sentiments through images but his biggest problem in the film lies in connecting the images to make a story.

Although the atmosphere is good, the story is too loosely structured. The more convincing part is the college boy's romance with the Japanese girl. The geisha documentary gives us interesting information about a geisha's life in modern Japan, but it seems irrelevant to the whole story.

In the director's statement that precedes the credits, Love at 7-11 is in memory of a glimpse and a dream, an unfulfilled romance that needed to be nurtured more. The story presented here, as well as the actors in the film, also needed a bit more nurturing.

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