Dear Ex: Movie Review

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For domestic dramas to be successful, they have to achieve a balance between incorporating sadness and pity as well as happiness and sweetness. Dear Ex is one of the domestic dramas that has been able to achieve this balance flawlessly. The movie revolves around three hard-to-love, and complicated characters. The outward aggressiveness of these characters clouds the judgment of the viewers against them and they’re unable to see the characters’ better natures.

The film revolves around these characters and binds them to a single character- a recently deceased man that was also closeted. He is a character shrouded in secrecy that dooms the people he left behind. The movie begins with Joseph Huang who plays Chengxi, a 13-year old who claims that he had always known that his father was gay.

Three months after the death of his professor father, Chengxi comes to the knowledge that he isn’t in the insurance policy. But, his mother Sanlian knows the truth and she knows that Chengxi’s father Zhangyuan named his long time lover as the benefactor but the claim wont materialize unless she (Sanlian) signs it off. As a result of this knowledge, Sanlian takes Chengxi along with her to the apartment of her husband’s mystery man in the hopes that the confrontation will prevent further upheavals in their lives.

The first third of the movie is narrated from the perspective of Chenxi and it takes up most of the film. It’s a strong blend of anger experienced by the teenager after he uncovers a secret that threatens to tear his life apart. In an unexpected turn of events, the teenager becomes fascinated by Jay, his father’s lover who is a community theatre director who can be as sweet as an angel and as furious as a bull at the same time.

Knowing that his mother would not approve, Chengxi still goes ahead to move into Jay’s life and the two start to develop an unsure bond as they sail through the city on a moped owned by Jay. Director Mag Hsu and co-director Chih-Yen Hsu created these scenes brilliantly and brightly with shots of the two characters alongside each other.

As the film develops, and incorporates new characters, there are also unexpected dynamics such as the arrival of Jay’s traditional mother. The perspective is shifted from Sanlian to Jay. However, along the way, the film loses the spark it initially carried of a teenager’s sheer restless and naive world view. Instead, it rides for some time on a wave full of boring melodrama.

On the other hand, Sanlian’s story is retrograde and we can see that through her backward views about gay men. She also seems a little silly as she tries to control her son through whatever means she can use. She is also seen obsessively thinking about sending her son off to college in Canada. While the love in the movie Dear Ex is expressed in odd, maybe even weird ways, there’s no argument that it’s all genuine.

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