You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

You Are the Apple of My Eye

A bawdy, sentimental but still enjoyably Taiwanese coming-of-ager.

With: Ko Chen-tung, Michelle Chen, Hao Shao-wen, Yen Sheng-yu, Tsao Kuo-sheng, Ao-Chuan, Tsai Chang-hsien, Wan-wan, Ko Yi-hung, Wang Tsai-hua. (Mandarin, English dialogue)

Lust leads the way but love gets lost in “You Are the Apple of My Eye,” a bawdy, sentimental but still enjoyably Taiwanese coming-of-ager. Directed by prolific author Giddens, adapting his own autobiographical novel, this raunchy item is perfectly pitched at Chinese youth markets, especially with its catchy soundtrack (Sony Music’s Taiwan branch co-produced with local outfit Star Ritz). Biz has been boffo in Taiwan ($12.7 million) and Hong Kong ($1.4 million), and while the film’s depiction of Taiwanese patriotism and lewd humor may offend censors in various territories, a rich international ancillary career awaits.

With a popular blog and more than 50 novels to his credit, Taiwanese personality Giddens (real name Ko Ching-teng) is almost a presold commodity domestically, spelling widespread interest in this, his feature-film debut (he helmed one segment of the portmanteau film “L-O-V-E”). Told in flashback, the story opens with Giddens’ alter ego, Ching-teng (Ko Chen-tung), being told to hurry because there’s a bride waiting for him. With a bite of an apple and a devilish grin, Ching-teng snaps into a verbose voiceover that accompanies the pic throughout.

Flashing back to 1995, Ching-teng introduces his coterie of buddies from his South Taiwan high school, where sex, not study, is their chief preoccupation. Given that one character is named Boner (Yen Sheng-yu), and Ching-teng has a penchant for looking at Japanese porn and walking around the house naked, the film boasts a sexual frankness that could get it nicknamed “Taiwanese Pie.”

Caught participating in a masturbation contest at the back of a classroom, Ching-teng is relocated to a seat in front of Shen Chia-yi (Michelle Chen), the overachieving, puritanical coed he and all his friends are in love with. Dismayed by Ching-teng’s academic apathy, Chia-yi is nevertheless won over by his display of chivalry, which rescues her from punishment on one occasion.

The narrative tracks the couple’s relationship through their final year of high school and inevitable drifting apart during their college years, at which point the story begins to sag, unable to maintain the outlandish phallocentric humor of its first hour, though the occasional funny gag does slip in. Final quarter sees Giddens overestimating the charm of his own story, but he keeps the pic entertainingly faithful to teen-romance conventions, and even when the jokes subside, the hip music and strong sense of nostalgia are more than sufficient to keep auds engaged.

While Giddens mostly keeps the proceedings slick and pacey (including three musical montages), the pic’s casting is its greatest asset. True to his flamboyant clown character in every way, newcomer Ko is captivating as the male lead; present in nearly every scene, the thesp carries the picture in outstanding fashion. Exhibiting greater range than her co-stars, Chen makes it easy to believe all the boys love Shen. Supporting thesps are all splendid, though a couple of characters could easily have been dropped without being missed.

Lensing by Chou Yi-hsien reps a potpourri of bright colors matching the lighthearted tone, offset by the drab blues and grays of the high-school buildings. Production companies Sony and Star Ritz don’t skimp on the tech credits, making this a much more robust production than many similar youth-skewing Taiwanese romancers over the past decade.

Mandarin title translates as “Those Years, We Chased After the Same Girl.”

You Are the Apple of My Eye


Production: A Sony Music Entertainment, Star Ritz production. (International sales: Sony Music Entertainment, Taipei.) Produced by Adam Tsuei. Executive producer, Angie Chai. Directed, written by Giddens, based on his novel "Na xie nian, wo men yi qi zhui de nu hai."

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Chou Yi-hsien; editor, Liao Ming-yi; music, Chris Hou; art director, Shen Chan-chih; costume designer, Hsu Li-wen; sound (Dolby Digital), Tu Du-che Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Winds of Asia-Middle East), Oct. 24, 2011. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: With: Ko Chen-tung, Michelle Chen, Hao Shao-wen, Yen Sheng-yu, Tsao Kuo-sheng, Ao-Chuan, Tsai Chang-hsien, Wan-wan, Ko Yi-hung, Wang Tsai-hua. (Mandarin, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Indie Sales Acquires Martin Lund's Nordic

    Indie Sales Acquires Nordic Coming-Of-Age 'Psychobitch' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Paris-based company Indie Sales has acquired Martin Lund’s Norwegian coming-of-age drama “Psychobitch” which is headlined by Elli Rhiannon Müller Osbourne (“Utoya: July 22”). “Psychobitch” marks the first feature film of Martin Lund, who made his debut with “Twigson Ties the Knot,” a local box office hit, and followed up with “The Almost Man,” which won [...]

  • Studiocanal has sold Jean-Paul Gaultier's "Freak

    Jean-Paul Gaultier's 'Freak And Chic' Documentary Sells For Studiocanal (EXCLUSIVE)

    Underscoring the strength and scope of French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s legacy around the world, the documentary “Jean Paul Gaultier Freak And Chic,” which chronicles the making of Gaultier’s ongoing popular show in Paris, has been luring distributors in key markets. Sold by Studiocanal and produced by Capa, the documentary has already been picked [...]

  • Korea Box Office: 'MAL·MO·E' and 'Inside

    Korea Box Office: 'MAL·MO·E' and 'Inside Me' Remain on Top

    There was no change at the top of the Korean box office, as local titles “MAL·MO·E: The Secret Mission” and “Inside Me (a.k.a. The Dude in Me)” dominated a second weekend. Lotte’s “MAL·MO·E” earned $4.79 million from 618,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday for a total of $16.7 million from 2.23 million admissions after two [...]


    China Box Office: ‘Bumblebee’ Flies to $138 Million Total

    “Bumblebee” flew to its third weekend of dominance in China. But the Chinese box office remains in lackluster mode at the start of 2019. The spinoff of Paramount’s “Transformers” franchise earned $16.1 million in Chinese theaters between Friday and Sunday, according to data from exhibition and distribution consultancy Artisan Gateway. That was a 38% drop [...]

  • Mara Watkins Nabhaan Rizwan Steven Wouterlood

    Diverse Talents Pepper Variety's Fifth 10 Europeans to Watch List

    Variety has unveiled its fifth edition of 10 Europeans to Watch, spotlighting 10 rising talents from across the continent who are poised for breakthroughs in 2019. The selection includes emerging actors, directors, showrunners and cinematographers from six countries whose dynamic talents are being showcased on screens big and small, and on both sides of the camera. [...]

  • Glass Movie

    Box Office: 'Glass' Shines Overseas With $48.5 Million Weekend

    After autobots and aquatic kings have dominated foreign markets over the past few weeks, a different kind of hero has risen to the top of box office charts. M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is the new champ overseas, pulling in $48.5 million from international territories. The supernatural thriller, a sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2016’s “Split,” debuted [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    'Roma' and 'The Favourite' Lead London Critics' Circle Winners

    After ruling the U.S. critics’ award circuit, “Roma” continued its dominance on the other side of the pond, as the London Film Critics’ Circle announced its winners tonight. A week after landing seven BAFTA nominations, Alfonso Cuarón’s Mexico City memory piece landed film of the year and director of the year honors from the group [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content