My Missing Valentine
Patty Lee, Liu Kuan-Ting, Duncan Lai
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…an interesting and sometimes delightful film that wears its heart on its absurdist sleeve.
Life for Yang Hsiao-Chi (Patty Lee) has always moved at a different pace to those around her. When she was young, she was always going too fast, just off by a few seconds with those around her; jumping the starting gun in races, laughing too early at jokes in the cinema, Hsiao-Chi is never quite in synch with the world around her.
At the age of thirty, she is working in a Taipei post office lamenting that she hasn’t yet found her place in the world. Specifically, she lacks any romantic attachment, so when the handsome Liu Wen-Sen (Duncan Lai) comes into her quotidian world she is quickly swept off her feet by the handsome and attentive man and for the first time finds herself with plans for Valentine’s Day.
In reality, Hsiao-Chi’s world is anything but normal. Waking up on what she believes to be Valentine’s Day, she finds that she has missed the day completely. All she knows is that the day didn’t happen to her and for some mysterious reason she is sunburnt.
Soon, she finds a picture of herself at a beach that she can’t remember posing for, and decides with the help of an anthropomorphic dream gecko to go in search of her missing day, which may also lead her to her missing valentine and perhaps even her missing father who years ago went out for tofu pudding and never returned.
A Tai (Liu Kuan-Ting) has also lived a life that is out of synch with the rest of the world. For him, he’s always a few seconds behind. He works as a bus driver and every day comes to Hsiao-Chi’s counter to mail a letter. The reason for his interest in her becomes clear as the film progresses – they once shared time together as children after an accident placed them both in hospital and he has been pining for her ever since.
Hsiao-Chi’s missing day becomes A Tai’s extra day, and the bus driver is given a chance to finally spend some time with the object of his affection.
Writer/director Yu-Hsun Chen has crafted a whimsical fantasy world where the rules of logic don’t apply. The missing/extra day is the crux of a narrative that suggests that love ignores rules, including, it would seem, the rules of conscious choice. Whilst the film is cloaked as a heartfelt romantic comedy there is something a little off with the choices behind the premise. The film espouses “Love yourself because someone out there loves you,” but what if that someone is a person you only half remember as a childhood friend who takes to essentially stalking you for years and through the strange missing/extra day takes you on an adventure only he is conscious for?
My Missing Valentine is at heart good-natured and plays around with the conventions of romantic comedy to the extent that the slightly disturbing undercurrent of the film can be dismissed up to a point. Patty Lee is charming in the lead role and the quirkiness of the film papers over what could be viewed as a darker level of viewership.
Perhaps, it is best to just experience the oddball world Yu-Hsun Chen has created on a surface level and not go too deep into the philosophical connotations that it presents. If you’re prepared to just go along for the ride, My Missing Valentine is an interesting and sometimes delightful film that wears its heart on its absurdist sleeve.