Movie: Eternal Summer (盛夏光年)
Director: Lester Chen
Writer: Cheng-Ping Hsu, Hsu Cheng-Ping
Producer: Leste Chen, Patrick Mao Huang
Eternal Summer is a Taiwanese film that tells the story of a childhood friendship between Shane and Jonathan. As the two continue to grow, the bonds they have formed become stronger and the two become inseparable. However, once they reach adulthood, they soon find themselves confused and frustrated about how they feel about one another.
From a young age, Shane has been known as the trouble maker in his class, always acting out and doing mischievous acts such as cutting an unsuspecting girl’s hair or making bad grades on tests. Jonathan, a good student, is confronted by the teacher who asks him to befriend Shane. Hoping that Jonathan’s positive behavior and attitude will rub off on Shane, the teacher conveys the importance behind the much needed friendship between the two. Jonathan follows the teacher’s demand and soon finds himself at the side of Shane.
Jonathan and Shane reach high school and find themselves closer than ever before. Spending most of their time together the two’s friendship is stronger than ever until a young girl named Carrie appears. Carrie, a transfer student from Hong Kong, soon finds herself interested in Jonathan. Slowly pulling Jonathan away from Shane, Shane finds himself jealous of this new bond between Carrie and Jonathan. Furthermore, Jonathan begins to go through a sexual crisis and finds himself wanting to separate away from both Carrie and Shane. Shane becomes confused, not knowing why his friend wants to distance himself from him and confronts Carrie on the matter. The two become friends and begin to see each other often, but decide to keep it a secret from Jonathan due to his past relationship with Carrie.
Taiwanese cinema has received a lot of attention from outside audiences due to the many gay and lesbian films that come from this small island. Eternal Summer is one of the many films out there that deals with sexuality and coming out. Although there are quite a few films like this one, Eternal Summer, however, is capable of telling a story about a difficult time period for any gay person. The conflicts between coming out and deciding how to let those who are closest to you know your sexual orientation is present throughout the entire film. An inner conflict between the characters and their yearning to live their life the way they want to, but not knowing how to confront one another on the issue. With the fear of losing those closely to them, they decide to shut it off in order to sustain what they already have.
The young actors in this film do an excellent job at portraying the emotions these characters are going through. Their acting is believable and brings the characters to life allowing one to really sympathize with the situation the three find themselves in.
With all this set in motion, Eternal Summer is a great film that is unrivaled in the sense that I believe it is capable of telling the much needed to be heard story of the most difficult time period in a gay or lesbian person’s life. If you like gay and lesbian cinema, I recommend that you add this film to a list of must see films.
Cast: Joseph Chang, Bryant Chang, Kate Yeung