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You Are the Apple of My Eye ("Na xie nian, wo men yi qi zhui de nu hai")

Canadian Premiere
  • Taiwan
  • 2011
  • 110 mins
  • DCP
  • Mandarin
  • English (subtitles)
WINNER: Audience Award, Taipei Film Festival 2011
WINNER: Best New Actor (Ko Chen-tung), Golden Horse Awards 2011
WINNER: Best Film of Mainland (China) and Taiwan, Hong Kong Film Awards 2012

“Injects a fresh, tart edge to the genre… crowd-pleasingly raucous” — Maggie Lee, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“A well-selected cast and a brisk pace… a high level of energy throughout” — Ho Yi, TAIPEI TIMES

Shen Chia-yi is the kind of girl with no time for goofing around, focused firmly as she is on excelling academically in high school. Ko Ching-Teng excels in school as well — excels at such worthy activities as a spontaneous, air-guitar-style masturbation contest with his equally foolish buddy “Boner” Hsu. Shen has little but contempt for Ko and his pals — basketball show-off Lao Tsao, hefty and hungry A-he, dubious “magician” Liao and of course the ever-erect Mr. Hsu —all of whom save Ko have major crushes on the inaccessible Shen. The teacher assigns her the unappealing task of getting Ko’s grades up to snuff, a job she’s none too enthusiastic about. When Ko gallantly takes the fall for the purportedly perfect student’s forgetfulness, though, Shen starts to see him in a different light. And so begins something that’s not quite romance, not quite a relationship, but definitely, conclusively love.

A romantic teen comedy for the real world, Giddens Ko’s ribald yet reflective debut feature — adapted from his own largely autobiographical novel — resonates with a remarkable feeling of authenticity. Ko, after all, mortgaged his house to help make this film, a gesture he claimed was intended to impress the ex-girlfriend upon whom Shen’s character is based. He did all this for her favour — and along the way, impressed the rest of Taiwan (where it was a monumental box-office hit) and then the world with his insight, wit and emotional honesty. APPLE OF MY EYE was shot on location throughout Changhua County, where Giddens grew up, including Ching Cheng High School which he (and Shen) attended, and is peppered with accurate pop culture and current-affairs references. Ko has done more than capture the Taiwan of his teenage and university years, though. Drawing on his own personal fish-that-got-away tale, he paints a portrait of imperfect love, a bond between boy and girl that never — never say never? — settles neatly into picture-perfect pairing up but nonetheless connects the two in a deep and enduring way.

— Rupert Bottenberg