‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’: Bittersweet

January 13, 2014

will you still

Arvin Chen’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” examines several different kinds of love in a gentle, engaging tale of two couples, each struggling at a crucial point in their relationship.

Set in Taiwan, the film begins with Mandy (Kimi Hsia), who is about to marry San-San (Stone), a likable but nebbishy guy, when she realizes that there is no romance in their connection. She calls off the wedding and huddles in her apartment, eating and watching a soap opera (whose star sits next to her, in her imagination, sympathizing with her life)

Mandy’s brother, Weichung (Richie Jen), works in an apparently successful optician’s shop. One day, his boss takes him aside, announces that he’s had his fill of eyeglasses, and is retiring, turning the reins of the store over to Weichung. That’s good news, because Weichung is married to Feng (Mavis Fan), has a child to support, and a mortgage. His wife works as well but is perpetually late to her job, because she’s taking their unruly child to school.

Weichung’s world is shaken when a good-looking male flight attendant comes in to get his glasses straightened – and openly flirts with Weichung. We quickly learn that Weichung had been gay in college – but had “decided” to go straight and marry Feng.

That was eight years ago; they have a son and a seemingly happy marriage (though Feng looks nonplussed when co-workers talk about how often married couples “do it,” since it’s obviously more often than she is). Now this customer (who reveals later that he’d been cruising Weichung when he came in that first day) has reawakened something that Weichung can no longer contain.

The scenes in Chen’s script are like doors opening into these characters, taking us deeper and deeper without creating a particularly elaborate plot. Feng eventually sees her husband with the flight attendant; Mandy, meanwhile, rejects San-san repeatedly, right up to the moment when she realizes she can’t live without him. Will her epiphany come too late?

There are strange little moments of magic realism – the soap star who counsels Mandy, a scene when Weichung’s retiring boss opens his umbrella and does a Mary Poppins exit. But director Chen doesn’t lean on them (nor use them consistently enough to seem like more than an inconsistency in the film). The film is a little long, but seldom drags.

In the end, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” (and yes, the old Carole King song does get a work-out) is a bittersweet tale of self-discovery for all involved.

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