After his messy genre-fusing feature debut Exit No. 6 (六號出口), young Taiwanese director Lin Yu-hsien (林育賢) returns with a romance, Sumimasen, Love (對不起，我愛你). As one of eight projects being subsidized by the Kaohsiung City Government to promote tourism in the harbor city, this lighthearted sketch about young love is pleasant enough to look at but thin in content and emotion.
The film has a rather minimalist plot. Tanaka Chie moves to Taipei to study Mandarin and is unexpectedly cast as the leading actress in a movie. Wu Huai-chung wants to be a filmmaker but works as a part-time film projectionist in Kaohsiung. Chie yearns for a break from gloomy Taipei and visits the sunny southern city. She loses her purse and meets Wu, who offers to give her a NT$500 bill, on which he asks her to write her name and phone number. The two roam the city, sharing secrets and feelings, and a budding romance develops. By the end of the day, the two young lovebirds believe they will meet again when destiny finds a way to return the NT$500 bill to Wu.
Sumimasen, Love feels like a pastiche of the 2001 romantic comedy Serendipity — which employed the bill with the name and phone number device and the theme of predestined love — and Richard Linklater’s 1995 Before Sunrise. Like Linklater’s romantic drama, nothing much happens in Sumimasen, Love. Chie and Wu walk and talk while wandering through beautifully shot landscapes, although without the snappy dialogue and interesting conversations between the characters played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Deplay.
In the technical department, the editing is smooth and the visuals are pleasant, aided by what some might find to be an excessive use of hand-held shots that produce an intimate, documentary feel. Yet the film suffers from a lack of genuine emotions. The conversations strike one as lifeless and stiff, as if they were copied from a sentimental teenager’s diary. The two leads are often seen struggling with gestures of affection seen not in real life but in television commercials. Such flaws are likely to make it hard for most viewers to become engaged in the story and cause many of them to fidget in their seats or fall asleep.
Sumimasen, Love (對不起，我愛你)
DIRECTED BY:LIN YU-HSIEN (林育賢)
STARRING:TANAKA CHIE AS TANAKA CHIE,WU HUAI-CHUNG (伶餾中) AS WU HUAI-CHUNG
RUNNING TIME:75 MINUTES
LANGUAGE:IN MANDARIN, JAPANESE AND TAIWANESE WITH CHINESE AND ENGLISH SUBTITLES
Lin established himself as a promising talent with his popular drama-driven documentary Jump! Boys (翻滾吧！男孩) in 2005. A more mature director may emerge when he masters the ability to transfer the right amount of real-life emotions into a fictional story — not as much as in Exit No. 6, and not as little as in Sumimasen, Love.