Hear Me tells the story of Tian-kuo (Eddie Peng), a young delivery boy living in Taipei. As part of his job, he delivers boxed meals to an athletic center that supports deaf athletes, a job to which he is well suited as he is adept at sign language and can easily communicate with his customers. While there he meets Yang Yang (Yi-han Chen), a deaf girl who supports her athlete sister to compete in the Deaflympics. Instantly he is drawn to her and in no time at all falls head over heels. Yang Yang, on the other hand, while enjoying his attention and company, finds herself with limited time as she works to solely support her sister and herself. This filial loyalty attracts Tian-kuo even more, but keeps Yang Yang from pursuing a relationship. At the same time, Tian-kuo faces challenges in getting her attention and overcoming the barrier that exists between each of their two worlds.
Filmed almost exclusively in sign language, the viewer quickly finds that the lack of dialogue does not hinder the storytelling in the slightest. The use of music is minimal, but cues and swells are present for certain parts, definitely for the non-hearing impaired audience. I have always found that long conversations without music in movie scenes tend to be either compelling or boring. The scenes in Hear Me definitely fall into the former category as the viewer will find themselves drawn into the story. The film is a bit of a drama and a bit of a comedy, but the mixture works. The dramatic scenes are appropriately serious and well acted while the comedic bits are genuinely funny and touching.
Shot by first time director, Cheng Fen Fen, Hear Me is a simple story with a simple message, that the language of love has the ability to transcend. The determination that Tian-kuo displays in his pursuit of Yang Yang is at times unrealistic, but his earnestness truly makes you root for him. He’s a bit on the goofy side, but a good guy with a bit of shyness that he has to overcome to make his move. Yang Yang is at first somewhat cold, but quickly warms to him despite her reluctance to return his feelings. Very well cast in the role of Yang Yang, Yi-han Chen is fantastic as the charming, hard working, filial, and honest female lead. Besides being quite attractive, she delivers a very thoughtful and delicate performance, especially in scenes with her sister. Indeed, it is easy to see why Tian-kuo fell so hard for her.
Shot on a presumably modest budget, the film gives an interesting view of the hustle and bustle of Taipei, and the realistic but slightly magical world where these characters exist. Taiwan does look like a beautiful place and the film’s many establishing shots seem to emphasize the love the director has for the locale. Interesting camera angles but not an overuse show a somewhat textbook style, but I felt that scenes where the camera lingered were especially indicative of Japanese new wave, a period of which I have many films. The simplicity of the shots probably helps the story as it stays focused on the characters and there is little to no lost direction. It’s a lean and purposeful film.
In the end, Hear Me is not a film that offers too much in terms of surprises. It is a bit on the predictable side, but it is well acted, touching, and a solidly enjoyable film. I’ll freely admit to enjoying the heck out of it. For those willing to give the film a chance, I think you will be quite surprised by the heart and sincerity, that is clearly evident, which went into the film by both cast and crew. Highly recommended.
You may enjoy Hear Me if you liked: About Love, Turn Left Turn Right