Paramount Pictures has released Love in Taipei, a romantic comedy set in Taiwan, today on its streaming platform. The movie stars Ross Butler (“13 Reasons Why,” “Shazam!”) and Ashley Liao (“Physical”) in central roles but also features meaningful performances from the ensemble cast. While the plot is mostly straightforward and essentially never deviates from the established genre norms, Love in Taipei has some refreshing characteristics. Its casting, setting, and differentiated message provide the film with enough worth to make your experience a rewarding one.
Love in Taipei is tailor-made for modern viewers looking to watch some romantic tinge on the screen between good-looking people wearing great clothes. It might sound cheesy that the film is more in the territory of feel-good rather than challenging, something that is becoming an elusive achievement these days. While the film is quite simple prima facie, the underlying messaging of Love in Taipei’s Ending and Plot Summary deserves some looking into. That is exactly what we do in this piece. Happy reading!
Love In Taipei (2023) Movie Synopsis & Plot Summary:
Love in Taipei is the story of Ever Wong, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, who grows up in Ohio, USA. Despite facing challenges economically, Ever has been a driven and determined straight-A student. Her goal in life is to become a doctor, just like her father, who had to move away from the profession and take up a job in a pharmacy to make ends meet. Ever has also secured admission as a pre-med student. But before she begins her educational journey, her parents surprise her with a two-month-long “cultural immersion programme” in Huawei, Taipei.
This program is designed to introduce the students to the arts and culture of their heritage. Ever is an introverted person with eclectic tastes and hobbies. She is one of those cinema characters who tends to stay away from noise and fun (at least, what qualifies as so in one’s youth). Ever would rather stay in and read a book than go clubbing and get drunk. Sophie Ha is an exact opposite force of nature, a girl Ever meets on the bus to the institute—Sophie’s characterization of the program surprises Ever.
What is the cultural immersion program really about?
According to the extroverted Sophie, the program is colloquially called “Love Boat” because it is notorious for participants finding their soul mates and engaging in casual flings. On the bus, Ever also spots someone she refers to as “Boy Wonder.” His real name is Rick Woo, he is revealed to be Sophie’s cousin. Rick is a child prodigy and someone who Ever has seen in magazines growing up.
Her mother is literally obsessed with Rick, and Ever feels she purposely sent her to this program to set them up with each other. Sophie and Ever room together for their program and go out at night to explore the city. Although the latter is hesitant to do so, she is convinced to step out of the institute – at the cost of breaking rules – to meet her Aunty Shu. Ever had been a big admirer of her free spirit and how Shu carved her own path in life.
Shu traveled the world from an early age and became a painter, setting up her own gallery in Taipei. After their initial interaction, Rick started taking an interest in Ever. He followed her on her first night out, and the two spent some valuable time. It is clear that they like each other and will take this spark forward. Shu finally meets Ever at her gallery-cum-house. Ever harbors dreams of becoming a dancer – something she actually likes to do. She wants to join a dance company based out of New York as opposed to going to medical school.
What is Ever’s dream? What stops her from pursuing it?
Ever wants to train and prepare an audition video to send to the company within the next few weeks. She mentions this to Shu, who is surprised but supportive of her. Shu offers a part of her gallery to Ever to use as a training ground for her dance moves. Meanwhile, Rick and Ever grow closer as friends. Sophie develops a close relationship with Xavier Yeh, a fellow student in the program who is always breaking the rules and lives life on his terms.
Eventually, the four become couples and make the most of their time together. Ever has also been receiving secret drawings of herself from someone whom she assumes to be Rick. Ever feels confused about her future and refers her problems to Shu. The aunt is quite open in her stance on life. She feels that in life, most people are often caught between two dreams or things that they can do. She refers to an old philosopher’s term, meng die, which translates to “butterfly dream.” This philosopher had a dream once that he was a butterfly. But when he woke up, he realized it was a dream.
The man would not shrug off the feeling that he couldn’t tell which one was the reality. Shu believes that this notion explains that life should not be taken too seriously. Now that the relationship is going great, Rick invites Ever to a party hosted by his Aunt Claire. She wants to introduce him to her high-society friends, and Rick gifts a beautiful dress to Ever as well. On the night, Ever finishes up her practice and leaves for the party in a rush. She is surprised to see Jenna at the party, who is Rick’s ex.
Love in Taipei (2023) Ending Explained:
Claire has invited him since their families are close. Ever feels uncomfortable when Rick tries to paint her life as picture perfect and something that only sounds very good. Xavier faces a similar fate at the hands of Sophie, and the two exit the party together. Under heavy rain, Xavier and Ever kiss when he reveals that he has been sending her the drawings. But the latter runs away in embarrassment. She converges with Rick and Sophie at the institute, where it is revealed that the cousins are going away from Taipei due to an impending storm.
Ever and Rick goes through what can be called a breakup, unable to reconcile their differences. The next morning, Ever realizes that she left the window in Shu’s gallery open. When she reaches the spot, Ever is devastated to find that all of Shu’s paintings have been destroyed. Shu forgives her and is relieved to see her safe. Ever’s parents also talk to her, and her mother reveals that someone called about a dance company at her home. Unfortunately, Ever did not make it to the company and is heartbroken to see her dream get over.
While cleaning the premises of the institute with the other students, Ever apologizes to Xavier for the kiss. He also reciprocates the sentiment when Ever gets the idea to help Shu get her gallery back up. The festival, which was supposed to take place at the institute at the end of the program, will now be taking place in a truncated form at the gallery. Ever’s parents, Ricl and Sophie, are in attendance. They watch Ever set the stage on fire with her improvised “butterfly dream dance.” The movie ends on a happy note as Ever, and Xavier professes their love for each other.
What is the central message of the film?
Ever’s fraught relationship with her goals in life is something we all go through. There is always the fight between something we want to do and something we ought to do. Reconciling those two things is not easy, especially when you feel the walls of time closing in on you. One must have the foresight and courage to step back and take a leap into the unknown. When you follow something instinctively without the fear of failure, more often than not, it materializes into something rewarding for you.
Ever went through the exact same experience where she was not able to focus on either medical school or dancing properly. She was so afraid of what would happen if she followed her dream that Ever never gathered the courage to tell her parents. The film also makes a comment on free will and how our choices are tied to our material experiences. What we see, and experience in life ends up shaping us, which limits our horizons to some extent. Love in Taipei celebrates following one’s heart without qualms and being satisfied with the consequences as long as one owns up to them.