English Title: Touch of the Light
Original Title: Ni guang fei xiang
Language: Mandarin, Min Nan
Director: Rong-ji Chang
Writer: Nyssa Li
2012 Oscar BEST FOREIGN FILM submission from Taiwan, saw it in the local multiplex in Shanghai, a more-than-10-months procrastination from its Taiwan theatrical run, its mainland box-office never really kicked off since it is an an art cinema alternative from a first-time director and without any bankable names in it, still I was intrigued by its warm reviews (also it got 3 Golden Horse Awards nominations last year), so needless to say it is the kind of film I prefer to offer my contribution.
Adapted by a true story, a blind pianist prodigy Yu-Siang Huang, who plays himself in the film, and the film stretches out his pristine university life with a college drop-out girl’s endeavor to pursue her passion for dancing (played by Yung-Yung Chang, already a three-time Golden Horse Awards BEST ACTRESS nominee at the age of 25, including one she got from this film), the film’s greatest merit is the light touch of its tear-jerking scenario, the mother-son affection has managed to deliver a kitchen-sink authenticity without too many embellishments, actress Lieh Li who plays Huang’s mother, brilliantly incarnates a subtle flair of humbleness, lovingness and tenderness.
It is an encouraging film, exhorts everyone to follow his or her dreams, to strive for it, and it also shuns a hackneyed underdog’s victory, neither the quartet performance nor the dance competition has functioned as a means of gaining instant fame or success, more or less it symbolizes Huang’s motto – everybody is born equally, although he is blind, it should not be considered as his disadvantage or his perk, his zeal of music is out of his heart, not a tool to grandstand for his own favor, the same can be inducted to Yung-Yung, she may not be pick of the bunch, but when she dances, she radiates with happiness.
The uplifting theme is perpetually presented by a hazy cinematography (a nice focus on Huang’s eyes with mostly looking-up angle) under the accompany of gentle light and a melodic score, this type of film is categorized as a sub-genre in Taiwan’s cinematic scene, in Mandarin we call it “Xiao Qing Xin”, literally means “small, fresh and novel”, aiming at youngsters’ love and friendship in rural or urban lives. TOUCH OF THE LIGHT is an engrossing storyteller, although all its components are stock-in-trade, the sleight of hand and a competent cast are worth at least some ovations and for me it is always delightful to discover new blood from that insular isle.