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August 20, 2017

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You Are the Apple of My Eye
(那些年,我們一起追的女孩)

Helping audiences re-live sweet memories — the bicycle ride to school, playing ball during recess, graduation and staying after school only to get closer to the girl you like, "You Are the Apple of My Eyes" (那些年,我們一起追的女孩) has it all.

The film is a gentle reflection of popular author Giddens Ko's (九把刀) teenage years in Changhua, kicking off right away with a grown-up Giddens, played by Ko Chen-tung (柯震東), waiting to attend a wedding. The film then switches back to a 16-year-old Giddens, biking to school while meeting up with his friends on the way.

Based on a novel, "You Are the Apple of My Eyes" tells the story of five guys, including Giddens, who strived to win over the heart of classmate Shen Chia Yi (沈佳宜), played by Michelle Chen (陳妍希), who successfully imprints her character onto our hearts and that of many Taiwanese teenagers.

The film is split into three parts: high school, university and the aftermath. Each part illustrates a different phase and level of the relationship between Giddens and Shen Chia Yi.

The high school portion of the movie is the longest; it strings our hearts together and spins them right into a memory tunnel with the scarred, drawn and worn out wooden chairs and desks, the girl poking the boy sitting in front with a pen, and the school uniforms.

The university years then show how the pair left their hometown and strived to maintain a long-distance relationship, which received a fine dose of real-life challenges.

The aftermath includes major turning points and decisions. Those with pet-peeves towards loose plot ends and underdeveloped characters need not worry. The film develops each and every character thoroughly, as well as gives a tip of the hat to how Giddens' career began as a writer. A two-part surprise epilogue appears during and after the credits, so be sure to stay for it.

"Maybe in an alternate universe, we will be together," said Giddens to Shen Chia Yi years after their last encounter ended in unfortunate misunderstandings. Not only do Giddens' words make us feel better about the fictional pair, they also pat faintly on our backs for those times that we may have allowed fate to slip through our fingertips. ■

► Directed by Giddens / With Ko Chen-tung, Ao-Chuan, Michelle Chen, Steven Hao, Tsai Chang-hsien and Wan-Wan / Drama / Taiwan / 2011 / 110 min. / Mandarin with Chinese and English subtitles / ★★★☆☆ / Now Showing

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