A light-hearted Taiwanese romance starring Feng Fei Fei that sees Hou dabbling in commercial genre cinema early on in his career—there’s little in the way of depth but it is still moderately entertaining.
Cast: Feng Fei Fei, Kenny Bee, Anthony Chan
Plot: A photographer travels with her boyfriend to a seaside village in Penghu. There she strikes up a relationship with a blind man. When they reencounter one another back in Taipei, their connection intensifies.
Source: Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute
Subject Matter: Light – Love & Connection
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
Viewed: Oldham Theatre – Asian Film Archive
Limited sessions at Oldham Theatre, presented by Asian Film Archive as part of their Restored programme: https://bit.ly/3fVXJmR
For those who are already familiar with Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s unparalleled body of work from The Boys from Fengkuei (1983) onwards, his early commercial work before he found his voice as a full-fledged auteur may be of interest.
Here we have Cheerful Wind, recently restored, featuring Feng Fei Fei as a photographer who encounters a blind man. Despite having a boyfriend of several years, she’s somewhat smitten by the blind man and strikes up a friendly relationship with him.
As a romance picture, Cheerful Wind may seem awkward in today’s eyes, what with sentimental songs recurring at both saccharine and melancholic moments, or the cheesy conversations between characters. Yet, this is one of several reasons to see a film like this.
It draws us back to a time when Taiwanese cinema was flourishing, to a time and place—and aesthetic—that we seldom see anymore.
“Hey, there’s that blind man from the Pescadores.”
That entire decade of films emerging from Taiwan, both commercially and the more arthouse stuff, remains one of the most nostalgic ever. Being a Singaporean Chinese who is familiar with Hokkien, these films are also a blessing to the ear when snippets of dialect in the conversations are heard.
Narrative-wise, there’s little in the way of depth in Cheerful Wind, but Hou still made a moderately entertaining movie. Early on, the viewer is already hooked through the setup in the first act, where Hou centres on a production crew trying to film a commercial with comical results.
Fourteen years later, he would take this ‘film within a film’ concept to the artistic summit in his masterwork, Good Men, Good Women (1995), the last entry of his momentous historical trilogy.