I saw Eternal Summer (盛夏光年) when it was released in October 2006 and recently watched it again on DVD. Summer’s Tail (夏天的尾巴) was released in the cinema in Taiwan in November 2007 and I watched it for the first time on DVD. Both movies are about the lives and loves of Taiwanese teenagers. The other link between the two films, other than “summer” in the title, is that Bryant Chang (張睿家) acted in both films.
Summer’s Tail stars Enno Cheng (鄭宜農) as Yvette (阿月). She also co-wrote the screenplay. Her father Cheng Wen-tang (鄭文堂) directed the film. The movie focuses on the lives of four high school students. As well as Yvette there is Jimmy, played by Bryant Chang, straight-A student Wendy and Japanese exchange student Akira.
The mood of the film is always bright like the southern Taiwan summer it is set in. Even though some difficult events happen to the characters the mood rarely seems to darken for long. I think this is one of the movies weak points in that it fails to explore in more depth some of the serious issues. For example, Jimmy is having an affair with his teacher but we never find out more than the cursory details.
Eternal Summer provides something of a contrast as it never shies away from portraying the difficult issues of sex and relationships. The story revolves around a love triangle. Jonathan and Shane become best friends early in their school days. Later Carrie comes onto the scene. First she has affections for Jonathon and then later transfers these to Shane. However, the key part of the story is how Jonathon and Shane try to resolve their feelings for each other. Carrie remains loyal to both of them, but always seems at the periphery.
All three actors give strong performances. The relationships are realistically portrayed and one gains a good sense of their inner struggles. The film is also well shot and edited. The muted blue tone adds to the mood of the scenes shot in Taipei. The film reaches a powerful and emotional conclusion but it never suffers from being overly sentimental or too superficial. In short it is superb.