Director Mag Hsu: Dear Ex is not meant to be provocative

SINGAPORE – A gay love triangle is at the centre of Taiwanese film Dear Ex, but the director of the movie Mag Hsu says that her work is not meant to be provocative or salacious.

Speaking to local media at the National Museum Of Singapore on Sunday (Dec 2) afternoon, she said: “In Taiwan, the film is actually classified as G for general audiences.

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

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

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

The movie was nominated for eight awards at the prestigious Golden Horse Awards held in Taipei last month (Nov), and walked away with three, including the Best Actress award for Hsieh.

Hsieh, a veteran stage actress, said: “I am very happy and still overwhelmed by the award. To be recognised for your work like this is amazing. I definitely didn’t think that 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 actress Gong Li, who was a jury member at the awards this year.

Hsieh said with a laugh: “Gong Li was sitting just 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 picture.

“When I finally got it in the end, Roy Chiu teased me about it, because I was just so adamant about getting it.”

Chen, 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 in the head of the man who loved Chiu, however. He said: “Roy’s eyelashes are so incredibly long. He’s just this very, very beautiful man.”

As for Huang, he had no issues playing the part, even though it is his first major role.

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

The film’s co-director, Hsu Chih-yen, can vouch for that. He said: “Joseph is just as cool and bratty as the character he plays. When he came in for the auditions, he very 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.”

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