Coffee, dreams and the value of things

Taipei Exchanges (第36個故事) directed by Hsiao Ya-chuan (蕭雅全) is a movie set in Taipei that explores the theme of the value of things. In a city where capitalism and money dominates daily life the movie imagines an alternative of barter, storytelling and dreaming.

The movie is set in a cafe that Doris (played by Guai Lun-mei 桂綸鎂) opens with her sister Josie (played by Zaizai Lin 林辰唏). After asking the guests at the opening to bring a gift the cafe is filled with various items. Unwilling to sell anything other than coffee Josie starts to allow customers to trade things in the cafe for something they think is of equal value.

In the beginning Doris is business minded, while Josie is more idealistic. However the process of trading things not for their monetary value but for their meaning slowly transforms Doris.

A question that runs through the movie is whether one should spend their money on study or travel around the world. I think this is a question that runs deep in the mind of many Taiwanese people. The film uses several devices to explore this including interviews with people on the street. These integrate into the movie and it all flows quite well.

The majority of the scenes take place in the coffee shop though. The cafe used in the film was built especially for the production of the film but is now open for business. It’s located at No. 393 Fujin Street, Taipei City (台北市富錦街393號) and the name 朵兒咖啡館 is the same as in the movie. I don’t think you’ll find Gwai Lun-mei serving coffee there though.

Taipei Exchanges is a movie about understanding the value of things and following your dreams. It is quite a delight to watch and Guai Lun-mei and Zaizai Lin give great performances.

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