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STARRY STARRY NIGHT

SYNOPSIS:
Thirteen year old Xiao Mei (Jiao Xu) lives in Taipei with her mother (Rene Liu) and father (Harlem Yu) who are on the verge of divorce. Her loving grandfather (Kenneth Tsang) is the only person she is able to confide in, but he lives in a faraway forest wonderland which Mei often fantasies visiting. Jay (Eric Lin), a nerdy new arrival to Mei's class, has an aptitude for art; Mei is attracted to this budding painter and empathy grows when she finds out he is also from a broken family. Soon their emotional pain is juxtaposed with the physical cruelty they suffer at the hands of a school bully. With their outer worlds growing darker, Mei and Jay escape the urban jungle and set out on an adventure to find her grandfather's house. (Synopsis courtesy Heroic Cinema

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Beautifully photographed and tenderly scored, Starry Starry Night is a coming of age story with fantasy elements that appeal to all pre-teens, whatever their culture. It begins and ends at Christmas, several years apart. The story that unfolds between these two Christmas - one in Taipei, the latter in Paris, is a story that resonates with its struggles and challenges we all recognise.

It's refreshing to find a film in the coming of age genre that avoids the crass and vulgar excesses that are the staple of so many, and in which emotions are the guide.

The two youngsters at the centre of the story, Jiao Xu and Eric Lin deliver terrific, genuine performances, as their characters Mei and Jay navigate the tortuous path of growing up. Both have family dramas and both are outsiders at school - a combination sure to challenge them.

The title brings together several themes in the film, from the jigsaw of Van Gogh's famed painting to Jay's talent as an artist to the open night sky seen from grandpa's house in the country, where it's possible to see millions of stars.

Adapted with grace and sensitivity from the book, the film makes the most of cinematic tools to take us into this world where pain is extinguished by love. Incidentally, its M rating is unnecessary; PG would have been sufficient.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

STARRY STARRY NIGHT (M)
(Taiwan/China, 2011)

CAST: Jiao Xu, Eric Lin, Harlem Yu, Josie Xu, Kenneth Tsang, Rene Liu

PRODUCER: Kuo-fu Chen, Weijan Liu

DIRECTOR: Tom Shu-Yu Lin

SCRIPT: Tom Shu-Yu Lin (book by Jimmy Liao)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jake Pollock

EDITOR: Hsiao-tse Cheng, Yangh Xiao

MUSIC: Katsuhiko Maeda

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Pei-Ling Tsai

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: China Lion

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 4, 2012







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