“Starry Starry Night”
“Starry Starry Night” is a Taiwanese film directed by Tom Shu-Yu Lin. A film based around the magical imagination of Mei, and her troubled adolescent years. From the death of her Grandpa, to her parent’s divorce, to being bullied at school, Mei finds a way through with support from Jay, her new friend.
The film is full of metaphors, which are used to great visual effect. Whilst arguing Mei’s parents knocked over the fish bowl, Mei sees the fish struggling from the crack underneath the door; I think this shows the desperate situation, and that Mei can’t help her parents, like she can’t help the fish.
Throughout the film Mei tries to finish her jigsaw puzzle of Van Goghs “Starry Night”, however the last piece is missing, the puzzle is incomplete like the elephant that he grandpa started to carve her. This is a metaphor for Mei feeling her life is incomplete, she is unhappy.
Jay and Mei run away from home into the mountains, on an adventure to see the stars. Whilst Jay sleeps on the train Mei’s imagination runs wild. The sky turns into Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, the train starts to fly and the whole world around her turns into the painting. Mei uses her imagination as an escape from reality. Her happy memories of childhood are used in her fantasies to recreate her world. This is similar to the film “Life of Pi”, where his imagination is used to illustrate the story and create an image in your mind.
Later in the film the puzzle imagery is used again when Mei is scared that she might loose what has made her happy, she has a nightmare that her whole world is crumbling including Jay; the world around her made up of puzzle pieces falling apart. The dream ends with her grandpa lifting her up in his arms; another metaphor for not all things being lost.
Their adventure is filled with other metaphors about life, Mei and Jay took a wrong path when trying to find her grandpa’s house and had to find their way again. Similar to the choices you have to make in life. Once they find Mei’s grandpa’s house Mei comes across the fourth leg to her elephant, making it complete, this is a metaphor that she has found what she was missing in her life. The adventure and Jay make Mei realize she is lucky. Mei returns to school happy, she has parents that love her, just not each other. She has friends that care for her, they just may not understand her from time to time, and she is happy living with her Dad. Mei is happy even though she doesn’t see Jay anymore.
Mei understands that simple kindnesses can make you happy. She has grown up, in the penultimate scene she finds her last puzzle piece and can let go of her childhood.
The last scene is in Paris years later; I love the last twist of this film. The film ends with a male voice; “Merry Christmas, can I help you?” could this be Jay after all these years?
I liked the film as I could identify myself with the meaning behind it. There is a wide world out there to be explored; life is full of challenges and adventures sometimes scary and tough. You have to grow up and work through them to appreciate the happiness you have. I’d like to take Mei’s mothers advice “whatever you do its important to be happy”.