Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
100 Days: Romantic Comedy & Traditional Rituals
natural beauty and quaint charm of the Matsu Islands make them a perfect
tourist destination. The spotty cell-phone reception and lack of wi-fi could
also be attractive to visitors, but it is highly inconvenient for full-time
residents. A hot shot telecom exec has returned to his home island to scuttle a
fiber optic development plan. While he is there, he will pencil in his mother’s
funeral. However, he never bargained on the local tradition requiring his
marriage a little more than three months after the ceremony. Romance and ritual
threaten to stall his career in Henry Chan’s 100 Days (trailer
opens this Friday in Los Angeles.
Bo Dan felt rejected by his mother when she re-married and packed the teen off
to be educated in America. Frankly, he was fine with leaving, because he would
only miss his ambiguous girlfriend Xiao Wei. Now a high-flying dealmaker, Wu is
not sure how to react when his stepfather comes bearing the bad news. He also
brought Wu one of his mother’s favorite chickens, confusing the corporate shark
Wu finally arrives on fictional North Island, chicken in tow, he begrudgingly
attends her funeral. Of course, he is having none of the
get-married-in-100-days mandate. Fortunately, his step-brother Zhen Fong is
willing to fulfill Wu’s ceremonial duties in his stead. Unfortunately, he has a
five-year arranged engagement with Xiao Wei. That does not sit right with Wu,
but she does not want to hear it.
100 Days is pretty much
headed exactly where you think it is, but it has the good sense to lose the
chicken before the second act starts in earnest. It is also a ridiculously good
looking film. The island is spectacularly cinematic, sort of like the Village
in The Prisoner, but with shrines
dedicated to the ocean deity Mazu. The cast is also obscenely attractive, even including
Xiao Wei’s shy, unlucky-in-love bridesmaid Yu Jen, played by the drop-dead
gorgeous Julianne Chu. So yes, 100 Days will
definitely make viewers want to visit Peikan Island’s Chinpi village, where the
film was shot.
Tracy Chou plays Xiao Wei with demur intelligence, somehow managing to sell her
martyr complex. Likewise, Chu’s turn as Yu Jen is touchingly sweet and wholly
likable. Aboriginal actor Soda Voyu (seen in Seediq Bale) largely minimizes the shtick as the unflaggingly
earnest and only slightly goofy Zhen Fong. On the other hand, poor Johnny Lu’s
Wu gets quite a bit of slapstick comeuppance and never really feels like he connects
with the other characters, except maybe briefly with Tsai Ming-hsui, who
invests his step-father with a quiet dignity that classes up the joint.
100 Days never really tries
to transcend the rom-com genre, but it observes the category conventions in
moderation. Chan (whose American television credits include episodes of Scrubs and the
Confidential) keeps things moving along at an easy mid-tempo and
cinematographer makes everything sparkle in the warm sunlight. If you are
looking for niceness in a film, it has a bounteous spread. Recommended as a
safe date film, 100 Days opens this
Friday (12/12) in the Los Angeles area, at the Laemmle Playhouse 7.
Labels: Movie Romance, Taiwanese Cinema