Starring Alexander Jeremy and Esther Yang
Fresh from its success at the Manchester International Film Festival, the ambitious yet unpretentious Made in Taiwan explores the world of underground cinema through the eyes of filmmaker Jack (Jeremy) and his girlfriend Amy-Lin (Yang) as he creates a high-inducing film that draws in audience after audience as word spreads across the city. As the plot unfolds, we see an Icarus-style fall from grace as Jack struggles with his ambition to share his creation with the world with his need to keep ownership of his movies. As his grasp on reality and relationship with Amy-Lin starts to slip away Jack, along with the audience, start to question what is real and whether we really care.
The first few scenes in the movie seem muddled in terms of style but it finds its groove as we follow Jack and Amy-Lin deeper into the underworld of its titular city. The directors play around with speed, sound and light to the point where, in most movies, the plot would be lost but, like Jack’s films, there’s calm within the chaos. With the majority of the film being shot at night, or underground, each shot of Jack or Amy-Lin was done in shadow, concealed by a veil or a reflection, creating an ominous atmosphere where you’renever quite sure if you’re seeing the whole picture. The characters often speak of how Jack’s film make them see so clearly yet the directors deny the audience that clarity which puts the audience on edge (in a good way).
What is so great about this movie is that it is fiercely independent. It is not constrained by the limits of a brand-orientated producer or (so I learned from the post-screening Q&A) location permits. But there were some limitations; I wish I could have seen more of the actual consequences of Jack’s movies rather than the exposition used between scenes. This may have been a budget constraint but with so much tension built through the soundtrack and the shooting of the two leads, I wanted to see more of a physical release from both the principal characters and the ensemble cast.
‘Made in Taiwan had a lot to offer in terms of experience, atmosphere and two very strong lead performances. Jeremy and Yang have bags of chemistry and Jeremy’s portrayal of Jack’s creative genius is both endearing and unnerving, his decreasing instability, that could so easily have been overplayed, intelligent and subtle. Jonny and Leonara Moore are smart and creative directors who are not afraid to take on huge ideas in a huge city and create something very unique and exciting. This young cast and crew are definitely ones to watch for the future. If you get chance to go and watch this film, go; because in a couple of years time, you will be able to say you knew them before they were famous.