It’s the teacher that learns a lesson in Taiwanese tearjerker Turn Around [Review]

It’s the teacher that learns a lesson in Taiwanese tearjerker Turn Around [Review]

A teacher finds it hard to leave his temporary post at a rural school after a devastating earthquake shatters the village


Turn Around shows the difference that one good teacher can make.
Photo: Golden Scene Co. Ltd

Turn Around is funny at times and may remind you of some sweet high school memories. But you won’t be moved very much by the predictable plot and cliche dialogue.

Loosely based on a true story that happened in Taiwan during the Jiji Earthquake in 1999, the drama is about fresh teaching college graduate Wang Cheng-chung (Jay Shih). He starts his internship at a rural primary school where educational resources are lacking, and students are wild.

Wang establishes a closer bonding with his students as time goes by, but he’s still planning to leave the school as he’s always dreamed of teaching in a big city.

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With an unexpected earthquake shattering the entire city, his hopeless students are desperate to know if Wang is returning to school. Moved and inspired by his students, he decides to stay and support his students in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Don’t expect to get super emotionally-attached to the story or the kids here. The supposedly key scene of the students pleading Wang to stay just tries too hard to be sad, and can only be described as a total failure.

Luckily, the bright young cast has very good acting skills. Whether they’re poking fun at someone, or helping each other out, the innocent yet mischievous students are absolutely endearing. The kind-hearted glutton A-fei (Yuan Jen-fu) in particular was fun to watch, and very convincing.

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On the other hand, the acting from Shih and Kimi Hsia (as another teacher Ms Hsiao-lun) is only so-so but still manages to explore the dynamics of teacher-student relationships. The film also manages to preach the importance of trusting the potential of young people, as well as their ability to grow and transform.

Unfortunately, the script in general is not well thought out and often very vanilla. There wasn’t a single surprising plot twist, and the ending was stale as well, making its 108-minute runtime seem even longer.

Moderately heart-warming, but not quite convincing, Turn Around is one film that you may pass on, unless you are very interested in the impact of the 921 earthquake on rural Taiwan.

Edited by Jamie Lam

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