‘Fall in Love at First Kiss’ is an easily relatable, lovey-dovey romance based on the Japanese Manga 'Itazura na Kiss' [Movie Review]

‘Fall in Love at First Kiss’ is an easily relatable, lovey-dovey romance based on the Japanese Manga 'Itazura na Kiss' [Movie Review]

The romantic action starts right away in this Taiwanese movie take on the popular series


Darren Wang and Jelly Lin carry the weight of 'Fall in Love at First Kiss' with their on-screen chemistry.
Photo: Tangren Cultural Film Group

The romantic action starts right away in Fall in Love at First Kiss, which opens with secondary schoolgirl Xiangqin (Lin Yun) kissing Zhishu (Wang Dalu) by accident on the first day of school. From then on, the simple-hearted girl becomes completely obsessed with the campus charmer. But nothing she does, from openly confessing her feelings for him to handing him a love letter, means her affections are returned.

One day, though, a massive earthquake forces Xiangqin and her dad (Tai Chih-Yuan) out of their home and into the home of family friend Ah Li (Christopher Lee). To their surprise (but perhaps not to ours), he happens to be Zhishu’s father.

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The longer Xiangqin lives under the same rooftop as Zhishu, the more Zhishu begins to see his fellow classmate in a different light.

Fall in Love at First Kiss, the fourth adaptation of Kaoru Tada’s best-selling 1996 Japanese manga series Itazura na Kiss (Playful Kiss), does not disappoint. Although it isn’t as sweet as some of its predecessors (the 2005 Taiwanese drama It Started with a Kiss), director Chen Yu-shan has introduced scenes that make this film more relatable for a modern audience.

The acting from both leads is strong. Lin clearly had no difficulties bringing to life her naive and selfless (almost to a fault) character, and Wang was able to effortlessly portray Zhishu’s tough-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside personality.

Their portrayal of young romance - the sort where you feel butterflies, act impetuously, and experience wild swings emotion - is spot-on, and the on-screen chemistry between the two feels completely natural.

The rest of the characters are played with distinctive, sometimes wacky, traits. At times, their acting falls flat - but with so much of the plot focused on two individuals, these are minor flaws. In particular, we loved the bubbly soundtrack that weaves itself throughout the story.

Fall in Love at First Kiss is a perfect big-screen interpretation of every emotion people go through when they first experience romantic love - from the initial lovey-dovey highs to the crushing frustrations and lows that result from people failing to meet their (perhaps unrealistic) expectations.

Edited by Ginny Wong

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