Taiwanese short film, Growing Pains focuses on fourteen-year-old Yao (Chen Chong-En), who has had enough of his dilapidated sneakers.
Tired of having them merely repaired again and again by his financially strapped father (Yi Wen-Chen), who can’t afford to replace them, Yao attempts to convince his father to purchase a new pair.
For Yao, this becomes his obsession, and it is all that he focuses and concentrates on – he is eager to not be scoffed at by his classmates and wants to be able to match his peers on the track team.
One day, Yao’s father receives a visit from debt collectors, which ends in a nasty dispute. Immediately following this, Yao suddenly gets a pair of shoes from his father. What Yao fails to realise is how close his father is to real, far-reaching trouble.
Whilst his father makes attempts to get approval from his son, trying to uphold his dignity, and deal with unscrupulous standover men, Yao remains largely unaware of what his father is going through – and how near he is to facing serious problems and becoming insolvent.
All he can think about is his decrepit shoes and how much he wants a new pair.
Heavily in arrears to the debt collectors, Yao’s father continues to hope (dream) a lottery will help him out of his financial woes, pay his bad debt and give him respite and peace which he so needs and craves.
Despite the fact that his father toils and is under pressure from his outstanding financial obligations, things remain tense between the two, and Yao never fully understands the magnitude and severity of the situation.
The film is directed by Tapei-born filmmaker Po-Yu Lin, partly based on his adolescent encounters with his father.
This is a sharp, thoughtful study of the relationships between parents and children, the father-son bond and the sacrifices parents make by putting children first.