This is one of the best coming-of-age films that I've watched! Set in Changhua county in Taiwan, it's full of local flavour, yet contains themes that most of us can identify with. (Perhaps not Westerners, but Asians certainly.) There's the smart and pretty girl whom all the guys have a crush on. One of them gets her attention by lending her his English textbook, and accepts punishment for having forgotten to bring it. A friendship springs up from there; to return the favour, she helps him with his schoolwork, and he studies hard to prove his capability. After high school, they all go to separate universities and he continues pursuing her. A silly quarrel ends things and heartache ensues.
I love how the film captures all the ups and downs of adolescent love, and from the perspectives of both sides too. Its charm lies in the details - from splashing around in the sea and talking about their aspirations as a group, to the young couple walking the railway tracks and releasing a sky lantern with their wishes written on it. There are sad moments too, but the movie ends on a high note with the friends reminiscing on the past but also celebrating the present. This is nicely captured in the Mandarin title, 那些年我们一起追得女孩, which roughly translates as "the girl we pursued together in bygone days". So much better than "You are the Apple of My Eye"!
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