All about love, emotions

Dear Ex, about a husband who leaves his family for a man, is not meant to be provocative, says co-director

The cast of Dear Ex (from left) Joseph Huang, Spark Chen and Hsieh Ying-hsuan, and directors Mag Hsu and Hsu Chih-yen.
The cast of Dear Ex (from left) Joseph Huang, Spark Chen and Hsieh Ying-hsuan, and directors Mag Hsu and Hsu Chih-yen.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

A love triangle involving a professor who leaves his wife for another man is at the centre of Taiwanese film Dear Ex.

However, one of the two directors of the film, Mag Hsu, says her work is not meant to be provocative or salacious.

Speaking to Singapore media at the National Museum of Singapore on Sunday afternoon, the 51-year-old said: "In Taiwan, the film is classified G for general audiences.

"Despite the themes, the movie is about love and emotions. So, it's not a movie that will sell nudity or sexy gay scenes because there is none of that."

The film, which was screened at the ongoing Singapore International Film Festival on Sunday, is about a woman (played by Hsieh Ying-hsuan) who loses it when she discovers that her late husband (Spark Chen) has made his gay lover (Roy Chiu) the beneficiary of his life insurance instead of her and their teenage son (Joseph Huang).

Tensions in the family escalate when the son runs away from home to look for the lover.

The movie was nominated for eight awards at the Golden Horse Awards held in Taipei last month and won three, including the Best Actress award for Hsieh.

Hsieh, 38, said: "I am happy and still overwhelmed by the award. To be recognised for your work like this is amazing. I didn't think I would win."

It turns out that something else was on her mind during the Golden Horse ceremony. She was on a mission to get a selfie with Chinese superstar actress Gong Li, who was a jury member this year.

The veteran stage actress said with a laugh: "Gong Li was sitting in front of me, so I took a number of shots of her back. I decided to wait for a few commercial breaks before I went to ask for the photo.

"Chiu teased me about it because I was just so adamant about getting it."

Chen, 48, who plays her husband, confesses that his role was not an easy one to play.

He said: "This character is not a likeable one. No matter what he does, he will always be in the wrong and he will always hurt someone in his life."

It was easy for him to get inside the head of the man who loved Chiu.

He said: "Roy's eyelashes are so incredibly long. He's just this very beautiful man."

As for Huang, he had no issues with his role, even though it is his first major one.

The 15-year-old, who had a cameo in the television series, An Innocent Mistake (2012), said: "I'm a lot like my character, so it wasn't challenging. I think I talk like him."

The film's co-director, Hsu Chih-yen, can vouch for that. The two directors are not related.

He said: "Joseph is just as cool and bratty as the character he plays. When he came in for the auditions, he coolly said, 'I know you will cast me.'"

Mag Hsu added: "Yes, Chih-yen said that he wanted to hit Joseph for his attitude, but that I had to hire him because he was perfect for the role."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2018, with the headline 'All about love, emotions'. Print Edition | Subscribe