Taipei Exchanges (2010)
Director: Ya-Chuan Hsiao
Casts: Gwei Lun-Mei, Zaizai Lin
What you are willing to give up for exchange to fulfill your dreams?
After inheriting a building from her emigrating aunt, Doris (Gwei Lun-Mei) quit her job and decided to realize her long time dream of running her own coffee shop. With the help of her sassy, high-spirited little sister Josie (Zaizai Lin), she opened “Doris’s Cafe”. On the day of their grand opening, her friends decided to bring random “good-luck” presents –mostly useless junks and odd gifts that later ruined the beautiful and elegant café that she previously envisioned. While Doris was still overwhelmed by the all the junk that piled up in her precious cafe, Josie thought of an idea of a barter-system; if customers come in with something to trade, they can take whatever they want of equal value – which was according to Josie, a perfect opportunity niche to draw in costumers . The practical Doris put up with Josie’s idea at first although sometimes she was bothered by how customers were more concerned with the exchange rather than appreciating her skills. As the story progresses, both sisters discovered something more deeper than monetary value in the exchange. One day a traveler put up 35 scented soaps in exchange for thirty-five love letters and became a frequent customer in the cafe. He ended up telling tales about the cities where each soap originated to Doris and Josie. The stories about those foreign cities captivated Doris and inspired her to dream again. This idea of exchange in a way had changed both sisters’ perspectives and eventually changed each sister’s course of life.
Although the two of them are completely different in character and have different goals, there is a special connection that somehow pull them together.
This fluffy movie with its light comedy delivers a whimsical feel through its interesting narratives, occasional use of child-like animations and artsy illustrations. The use of soothing jazzy-piano musical score also adds up to its dreamy atmosphere.
It somehow reminded me of those occasional dreams that I have. The dream to travel the world, to meet people from different cultures, to pursue real happiness and my tedious attempts to escape the harsh reality of life. All these dreamy aspirations flashed through my mind as I was enjoying this lovely film.
It’s relaxing –and a bit starving– to watch an art film with delicious desserts and cappuccinos that occasionally flashes unto your screen on a lazy weekend. This film gave a pleasant atmosphere that I really enjoyed – with a nice cup of coffee. A watchable film about inner value and realizing your dreams which often lacks substantiality but charming enough to have me entertained and made me believe that somehow life is beautiful and we don’t need those heavy dramas to enjoy and appreciate life. Just brush off all those negativeness and “relax and see a movie”.
The coffee shop was built completely from scratch in an old apartment on Fujin Street in Taipei. It later became a real coffee shop named “Daughter’s Cafe” after the shooting of the film. You can visit the coffee shop if you happen to be in Taipei but of course, you can’t expect Gwei Lun Mei to be there making coffee and desserts for you, nor ask stuffs open for barter because all of those are just in the movie.