Film Review: Apolitical Romance

By Joy Chiang Ling

Contrary to its title, Apolitical Romance is a film that depends on its political undertones to tell its story. Its two main characters, A-Cheng (Taiwanese actor Bryan Chang Shu-hao) and Qin Lang (Chinese actress Huang Lu) represent their respective countries in terms of not only their nationality, but their personalities as well. A-Cheng, a civil servant with an affinity for Gundam models, is usually calm and rational, but has a tendency to burst out, especially when provoked by the feisty Qin Lang. The two often poke fun at each other for their cultural differences. To A-Cheng, Qin Lang is a rude and obnoxious mainlander. Qin, meanwhile, does not even recognize A-Cheng’s country as an independent state, but rather a “province.”

These political back-and-forths never escalate into a conflict, however, and is kept lighthearted and at times, amusing. The film’s director, Hsieh Chun-yi does a good job at balancing both the story’s romance and the more serious underlying message it is trying to convey. The couple’s relationship develops through a quest to find a long lost friend of Qin’s grandmother. On the way, they learn more about each other, and go on tangents to meet people who were once important in their lives. The conclusion of the film is bittersweet, and the audience is left wanting them – and, as a result, China and Taiwan – to reunify in the future.

Actress Huang Lu’s performance as a stubborn, outgoing girl from Beijing is one of the main highlights of the film. The chemistry with her more reserved Taiwanese host also helps put actor Chang Shu-hao’s talent in the spotlight. Apolitical Romance is both an ethnographic look into the relationship between feuding Asian countries, and a romantic comedy that is emotionally rousing and fun to watch.

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