When moviemakers successfully use a location’s history and environment to tell a story that attracts interest in that area, everyone’s a winner. Think Cape No. 7 (海角七號) and the waves of tourists it brought to Hengchun (恆春).
Shot in Kinmen, Our Island, Our Dreams (星月無盡) is a light-hearted romance that dwells on the island’s photogenic features to the detriment of an absorbing tale.
The story centers on three best friends who grow up together in Kinmen. As Xin Jun (Chen Yi-han, 陳意涵) becomes a pretty young woman, A-wu (Matt Wu, 吳中天) and A-jin (Chen Cheng-wei, 陳正偉) find their feelings for their childhood buddy changing. They hide this new affection in order to protect their friendship.
Along comes Han Wei (Huang Shih-yuen, 黃世元), a young soldier from the main island who rocks the boat by wooing Xin Jun despite her repeated rejections. She succumbs to his advances, a happenstance that triggers memories of her elder sister De Yue’s (Yang Kuei-mei, 楊貴媚) fate after falling in love with an officer who was transferred and never returned.
Director Peter Tamg’s (唐振瑜) myopic filmmaking casts Kinmen in the central role. A-wu, a local cultural worker, is a convenient vehicle to introduce audiences to the island’s landscapes, its traditions and history. The temple, ancient houses and underground fort are all pleasant enough to look at, but instead of being an integral part of the narrative, they are little more than travel guide illustrations.
College students-turned-TV personalities, brought to the public’s attention after appearing in the variety show University (大學生了沒), were cast as soldiers in flashback sequences that recreate life in the 1970s. Anecdotes about how tens of thousands of enlisted men during that era competed to chase some local skirt are intended to bring comic relief, but the humor feels tired and the novice actors lack on-screen charisma.
OUR ISLAND, OUR DREAMS (星月無盡)
DIRECTED BY: PETER TAMG (唐振瑜)
STARRING: YANG KUEI-MEI (楊貴媚) AS DE YUE, CHEN YI-HAN (陳意涵) AS XIN JUN, MATT WU (伶中天) AS A-WU, CHEN CHENG-WEI (陳正偉) AS A-JIN, HUANG SHIH-YUEN (黃世元) AS HAN WEI
IN MANDARIN WITH CHINESE AND ENGLISH SUBTITLES
RUNNING TIME: 96 MINUTES
TAIWAN RELEASE: TODAY
While Cape No. 7 shows how a successful movie can boost local tourism, films like Our Island, Our Dreams, which is undermined by a dull script, unimaginative filmmaking and flat acting, risk being relegated to the “glorified tourism advertisement” genre.