This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. We stand with the SAG-AFTRA. Without them, the movies and television shows we cover would not exist.
Although Love in Taipei is based on the novel Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen, they are not the same story, and that’s OK. Although the trailer and promo videos for Love in Taipei very much give rom-com, it doesn’t quite live up to that. So if you’re looking for XO, Kitty-level drama, romance, tropes and love triangle action, Love in Taipei is not the movie to watch.
Now don’t get us wrong — there’s definitely romance happening in the Paramount+ movie, but the film isn’t really about romantic love. Love in Taipei is truly about identity, discovery and the journey that is life. It just so happens that some romantic love is part of that story for Ever Wong (Ashley Liao).
A Cast of Characters and Chemistry
It’s about time Ashley Liao got to be a leading lady, and the same goes for Ross Butler! We do admit their age gap had us hesitant at first, but after watching their performances as Ever and Rick Woo, we totally understand and are on board. Their chemistry is undeniable and thus, many of their scenes were honestly the cutest and a highlight of the Paramount+ original movie. This duo definitely nailed the rom-com vibes.
Often joining Ever in her adventures across Taipei are Sophie Ha (Chelsea Zhang) and Xavier Yeh (Nico Haraga). Though Sophie may have overwhelmed Ever upon their introduction, theirs was a female friendship that easily blossomed into one we could root for. However, both Sophie and Xavier felt a bit underdeveloped. We know they’re supporting characters, but Xavier is literally on the main promo art.
Sophie is Ever’s best friend in Taipei, but she can be forgettable and is pretty stereotypical. She helps push Ever out of her comfort zone, and we love to see that. Other than that, though, she’s just Ever’s roommate who’s crazy about boys and partying. There’s nothing wrong with that, but honestly? The movie could’ve been the same without her.
Xavier has more screen time, is a slightly more developed character, and has an actual storyline with Ever. But he, too, is pretty stereotypical. He comes from a wealthy family and doesn’t see eye-to-eye with his rich CEO father.
Xavier and Ever have their moments — and some are pretty cute — but the chemistry, depth, and overall story is lacking compared to Rick and Ever. We see Ever fall for Rick and understand how and why they happen. But with Xavier, it seems to happen too fast and feels underdeveloped. That just makes any attempted love triangle fall flat.
Last, but not least, is Ever’s Auntie Shu (Cindy Cheung). Auntie Shu is a brand new character who isn’t in the book, and she is the cool aunt we all wish we had growing up. Auntie Shu might be the best change they made from Loveboat, Taipei!
Expectations vs. Reality
Every coming-of-age/young adult movie doesn’t need to be a love story, but the Paramount+ film was very much marketed and promoted as such. The promo art is literally Ever in between her two love interests, Rick and Xavier.
The trailer sets the movie up as a love triangle while Ever learns about her culture in Taipei. And if you’ve read Loveboat, Taipei, you have your own love story expectations going into it. So we have to admit we were disappointed.
We ultimately get what the movie was trying to do, though. Ever goes on many journeys in the film as she truly learns about her Taiwanese culture for the first time. She becomes more confident, more brave and more bold as she falls in love with her ancestral homeland.
Ultimately she doesn’t profess her love to a boy but to Taipei. However, when the love story returns and the movie wraps up, we aren’t convinced of who Ever chooses or why she ends up with any boy.
We don’t want to end on a negative note, though, and commend Love in Taipei for its relatable and realistic portrayal of what it’s like to be a first-generation Asian-American like Ever. Of course nothing is a one-size-fits-all situation, but there are quite a few moments where Ever had us in our feels.
Love in Taipei is now streaming on Paramount+.