ETERNAL SUMMER, (aka SHENG XIA GUANG NIAN), Bryant Chang, Hsiao-chuan Chang, Kate Yeung, 2006. ©Picture This! Entertainment

Love is an eternal quest. The mind does not care of the body when it searches love. The feeling of love is more dominant than the passion of love and that’s where the film transcends into a classic love story.” “Eternal Summer” is one of the most classically made love stories I have watched in recent times, where the scent of love prevails over the sexuality.

“Eternal Summer” screened at the New York Asian Film Festival

The narrative revolves around three friends: Jonathan (Bryant Chang), Shane (Joseph Chang) and Carrie (Kate Yeung) and their relationships and sexual orientations. Jonathan and Shane are childhood friends and slowly, with time, Jonathan evolves a feeling of love for Shane, which turns out to be an emotional attraction, difficult for Jonathan to ignore. Here enters Carrie, a girl from Hong Kong, who is attracted to Jonathan. Both of them enjoy a date in Taipei but when the physical attraction takes control of the relationship, Jonathan fails to portray his emotions for Carrie as he was actually attracted to someone else – Shane. The narrative takes a turn when Carrie and Shane start dating and slowly Jonathan comes to know the reality for his confusing sexuality, but fails to accept it . The story continues with a different scent of “love –triangle” through a shade of gay love.

Bryant Chang is brilliant as Jonathan and portrays his sexual confusion and emotions in a masterly way. He over-shadows all other actors in many scenes with his cerebral acting skills and deep penetrating portrayal of a young man searching for true love with a confused sexual identity. Both Joseph Chang and Kate Yeung give steady performances,  but I feel that the latter fails to bring out the expected emotional expressions on her face, in intense scenes with Bryant Chang. The story has a deep psychological thrust on the female protagonist and it demanded more expressive performance, which Kate Yeung fails to deliver.

Director Leste Chen portrays the movie brilliantly on celluloid and paces it like a poetry of motion. The use of a background score throughout the length of the movie makes it more poetic and aesthetic and easier for the director to keep the uniformity of the pace of the movie. Cinematography of Charlie Lam is above average and sometimes exceeds expectations with some beautiful long shots in greenish countryside or on the background of the blue ocean. But somehow, the editing of Hsiao-Yun Ku lacks intensity, and the movie slows down in many occasions.

“Eternal Summer” is a classy portrayal on silver screen but fails to deliver the emotional quotient required for a movie with such a quest for sexual orientation. The director raises many questions through the mind of the Jonathan, but fails to answer at the end, and the acceptance of Jonathan’s love towards Shane lives only under the shadow of friendship. But the classy making and freshness in the narrative make “Eternal Summer” a beautifully crafted movie and a memorable and thought provoking watch.