Coming soon from Picture This Entertainment is the Taiwanese film “Eternal Summer” a study of relationships. It looks at the lifelong friendship of a quiet student named Jonathan and his class cut-up friend, Shane. They met as kids when their teacher paired them together in the hope that Jonathan’s academic achievement would rub off n Shane. It did not exactly happen and ten years later Jonathan is still excelling at academics and Shane still doesn’t seem to care. Shane, however, has matured into a very hunky basketball star. The time has come for both to prepare to enter the university and suddenly a new girl in school, Carrie, arrives on the scene. She is immediately smitten with Jonathan who does not feel the same for her so she turns her affections to Shane. He way she now turns to the boys makes them realize their own feelings for each other.
Leste Chen is the director of this amazing little film and his emphasis on mood and fluid camera movement make this a special movie. It is easy to see why this film has been garnering awards.
The plot is simple and moves in a linear fashion as it follows the friendship and loves of the three main characters from age 11 in 1991 to age 18 in 1998 and then to college in 2005 and it looks at the glory and anxiety, the confusion and complexity, the pain and the angst of young developing love.
At times the pace of the movie seems quite slow and I often wanted the characters to express their feelings but I understand that when one is not accepted by society, it is hard to verbalize what one really feels. The characters suppress their feelings and lack the ability to communicate. But is this necessarily bad? I don’t think so—remember when you first realized that you had same-sex feelings. Did you communicate tem openly?
This is an extremely touching movie and the acting is quite impressive especially when we consider the ages of the actors. Their facial expressions are very strong and the slow pace of the film gives then a chance t allow their roles to fit even tighter.
For those of us who believe in love and friendship and true values, this is a film to see. It shows how love transcends time and gender as the bittersweet tale of childhood yearning for a best friend unfolds and then takes a different direction as the two males find the meaning of love when a girl threatens to upset their friendship. The film is basically about the gregarious nature of human existence and the desire of everyone to have companionship. This is certainly not a mew theme to cinema but here it is portrayed originally, poignantly and artistically.
The story of the quest for teenaged companionship is vibrant and profoundly presented. He only problem I had was the inability to understand how Jonathan could be so drawn to Shane for other than physical reasons which are just superficial. Shane sees Jonathan as a best friend that he cannot live without yet he is willing to jeopardize that friendship by actively pursuing Carrie. When Shane realizes that he is losing Jonathan, he sleeps with him in an effort to save their friendship. This just doesn’t work especially if he had no sexual feelings for his friend. It is hard to think that this sexual tryst would not put a strain on a friendship. Shane appears to be somewhat in denial about his own sexuality.
Slow but beautifully made with a touching and intense plot, the move has a lot to say. It is not the perfect movie but it is enjoyable and makes us think about the nature and depth of friendship.