By Jeff Walsh
Eternal Summer is a Taiwanese film that explores the friendship of straight-laced Jonathan and the more rebellious Shane. They are first paired off by a teacher in grade school, with the hope that Jonathan will serve as a good influence. Ten years later, that pairing is still in effect as the two near the end of their high school years.
Everything changes when Carrie, a new girl in school, appears and goes after Jonathan. He doesn't return her romantic feelings, and we start to realize we are in what is very familiar territory on this site: the straight crush. Rebuffed, Carrie ends up going after Shane instead, which only intensifies Jonathan's longing and clarifies Shane's feelings for Jonathan. Are they shared? Will it work out? Can't say.
What I can say is that the movie really takes time to breathe and build big drama out of small moments. Motorcycle rides with Jonathan holding onto Shane don't advance the plot all that much, but we all have some idea how much they mean to Jonathan.
It is just a well-made movie exploring universal themes in an entertaining way. The main trio are all perfectly cast. Bryant Chang, who plays Jonathan, won Taiwan's equivalent of an Oscar as best new performer for this role. I did enjoy the line in the press notes pointing out that Bryant Chang and Joseph Chang, who plays Shane, are not related. It's a common Chinese name, but I guess they needed to make sure no one thought we're watching two real-life brothers lusting after one another.
The DVD also has interviews with the director and two male leads (where you find out both actors are supposedly straight), deleted scenes, and both Taiwanese and US trailers for the film (where it comes across as a thoughtful movie and a gay sex romp, respectively).
Eternal Summer is definitely worth checking out.