Editor’s Note: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? opens in limited release and on VOD on Friday January 17th
“When I woke up this morning I realised my relationship with glasses is over,” states the optician employer of family man Weichung in the opening moments of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, handing his underling his business with a convenience that’s so contrived it must be something more. And so indeed it is, as he opens his umbrella and drifts off into the sky, like a dour middle-aged Asian Julie Andrews: such semi-fantastical strangeness is part of the peculiar charm of this lovely little Taiwanese movie by the American-born director Arvin Chen. Much like Mary Poppins, his is a film focused on recognising the life- and love-stilting limitations of the systems with which we’ve surrounded ourselves.
And so indeed it is, as he opens his umbrella and drifts off into the sky, like a dour middle-aged Asian Julie Andrews: such semi-fantastical strangeness is part of the peculiar charm of this lovely little Taiwanese movie…
Less a magic realist moment than a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the ease of some of the storytelling to come, this is a quaint invitation to suspend disbelief and forgive the falsity with which Chen will take us on a tour of this character’s life. His construction is less a fair reflection of reality than it is a wry contortion to make more sweet and satisfying his tale, like a candy that offers us little of our daily requirements and yet tastes so very good all the same. The vibrant, wry style of the production design by Shuo-Feng Tu—like watered-down Wes Anderson, but better to think of it as water added to squash—and the gorgeous melodies of Wen Hsu’s score create a reality-related world that’s just a little bit more beautiful.
And how appropriate that is: this is a movie, despite the difficulties of the drama it comes to depict, that looks at the world with an idealism that’s near-impossible not to fall for. Perhaps, at least partially, that’s because it can be so quietly sad. A stoic with a smile, Richie Ren is revelatory here as Weichung, whose disinclination to dare to be dissatisfied with so fortunate a lot in life has trampled the real person buried within him. The film is the story of his finding himself—his long-belated coming-of-age, as it were—by exploring at last the homosexual desires he quashed to be wed. Ren gives to his character such terrific timidity, such fretful fear buried beneath a convincing façade of contentment.
A stoic with a smile, Richie Ren is revelatory here as Weichung, whose disinclination to dare to be dissatisfied with so fortunate a lot in life has trampled the real person buried within him.
The heteronormative idyll his existence embodies finds stark contrast in the outrageous camp—“You’re so straight you’re making me flaccid”—of an old friend who acts as the conduit to this change. Here is where Chen’s ask that we indulge his conceits comes most prominently into play; were this a character in another narrative, he might seem almost offensive. As it is, he skirts, though no more so—it should be said—than Weichung’s sister and husband-to-be, whose relationship constitutes another of these simplistic structures with which Chen stages his take on sex, love, and marginalised identity. The film’s success, however much it comes to be, seems equally to depend on these thematic constructs and to be threatened by them.
It is perhaps a shame that Chen’s storytelling can’t entirely meld narrative flow with thematic purpose, yet none could accuse him of not making of these characters appreciable human beings. Unlike Mary Poppins, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? is not a film in which the intrinsic revelations are positive for all concerned. In the heartbreaking karaoke scene that lends the film its name, Weichung’s wife Feng—played with exceptional restraint by Mavis Fan—bears the enormous hurt of a human whose happiness has deprived that of another. It’s ironic, in a sense, that much of the film should take place at the optician’s, where people are offered a different view of the world and asked “better or worse”? Sometimes it can be so hard to tell. Such dreadful difficulty is the essence of this movie, which manages never to allow the harder aspects of life to cloud its lovely, lovely happiness.
[notification type=”star”]73/100 ~ GOOD. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? is a movie, despite the difficulties of the drama it comes to depict, that looks at the world with an idealism that’s near-impossible not to fall for.[/notification]