I finally got around to finishing episode 1 of this beautifully shot drama and I am surprised at the range the drama seems to promise to cover. The camera work is wonderful; clear, focused, and smooth. The acting can use some work, but the effort shows. However, the editing, I have so much gripe with the editing.
We begin the drama 6 months after the story began. We are introduced to each character as they busily catered to customers at a cozy desserts shop. The store is crowded and booming with business, but as Allen narrates, it wasn’t like this 6 months ago.
Six months ago, TianTian (owner, chef, and baker extraordinaire) sits in an empty shop with her one and only employee, Ah Lou. Along strolls Allen, a tourist new to the area. He inadvertently gets robbed (literally down to his boxers) and stumbles upon the Patisserie with no name while chasing his assailant.
The robber gets away, but Allen is left having to fend for himself when the two women think he’s a pervert.
They get the misunderstanding cleared up and Allen leaves to go to the Police Department to report his items stolen. The next morning, Allen comes back to the shop, much to TianTian’s dismay, and admits that he knows no one in Taiwan and used their bakery as his home address when he reported the robbery. So after much begging, TianTian allows Allen to stay at the shop while working for free as a busboy. The next day, the shop with no customers finally was graced with two patrons, only to find out it’s TianXing, TianTian’s older sister, who has brought along with her her new rich boyfriend.
TianXing is snooty to say the least, and calls everyone a peasant before leaving. TianTian was not happy about seeing her sister, and even less so at seeing that she has a new boyfriend. The ordeals makes her forget that she has to pick up her son from school, and she runs off to the kindergarten.
In the next scene, we waste about 15 minutes watching TianXing trying to cook for her boyfriend. She’s horrible at cooking and ends up ordering out.
Later that night, Allen and TianTian have a heart to heart about their situations. TianTian doesn’t answer any of his questions about her relationship with her sister, while Allen confesses he still needs some time to get his things in order and will need to stay at her shop for a while longer. He claims he cannot get in contact with any of his friends.
And in the next scene, we see another lone wolf sipping a glass of wine and calling a disconnected cell phone.
The scene fades out and we see that TianXing is waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up to go to Italy. However, an angry fiancee walks out of her man’s car and slaps TianXing straight across her face. The car drives off, leaving TianXing disheveled.
TianXing, with her heart broken, decides to visit her sister’s shop and enlists the help of Allen (who just got his stolen bag back) and Ah Lou to steal her cheating boyfriend’s ring on the day of his wedding. The three succeeds and toasts to a plan well done.
However, TianXing gets way too drunk and has to be carried back to TianTian’s house by Allen. TianTian is visibly upset at the turn of events and chastises Allen for allowing this to happen. Allen smiles with an unreadable facial expression and retires for the night.
With his belongings returned, Allen opens his ipad and finds that his mother has been trying to contact him. He lies that he is in Hong Kong and hangs up on her. (Well then, someone seems like he’s hiding a secret. And the Mama Allen looks like she’s rich!)
The next morning, a real customer finally visits the bakery and orders an item! Chef TianTian goes to a batting cage to vent her frustrations as her sister drinks herself to an oblivion. Allen spots TianTian at the batting cage and asks again about TianXing. Allen tells her that those who look fine on the outside and almost always trying to hide their sad insides, and TianTian thinks back to a previous break-up TianXing had and remembered that TianXing likes to cope by eating chocolate covered bananas.
TianTian goes home and makes her sister exactly that, a chocolate covered banana cake. And commence foodporn galore. This cameraman really knows how the hell to capture the most enticing angles of bakery goods.
TianXing sees the cake and cries, thanking her sister. In reply, TianTian says “ShangBa” (meaning bitch), and we’re left with warm fuzzies feelings about their relationship. They’re definitely there for each other no matter how mean they might be.
At the end of the episode, we are presented with a silent, beautifully done wordless montage of how TianTian and her son stumbled upon the current Patisserie with no name. It was a raining night and the two was stranded in the neighborhood. A kind elderly man welcomes TianTian into his shop and insisted that she stayed the night while the rain does its thing. TianTian agrees, and cries.
And this is the same man that TianTian visits today. He seems to have suffered a stroke, and TianTian brings him sweets to brighten his day. Then, we close the episode with Allen snooping around TianTian’s apartment looking for something.
Let me once again commend the beautiful camera work. The color is beyond vibrant and the zooms have such a clear focus to them. That little shop has such a quaint feel to it, and the food, the food… mmmm. The actors are fresh faced and new, and some of them tend to overact (like the actress playing TianXing), but their efforts show. Sandrine Pinna shows a level of nuance when playing TianTian, showing us her reserved nature yet also relaying her longing, her ponderment, and her depth. The actress playing TianXing is way over the top, and all of her scenes in this episode seemed like a waste of my time. She can definitely only improve from here on in, and her looks remind me of the famed HK actress Maggie Shiu. But really though, the directing for TianXing’s story was horrible. None of her scenes showed that she was really in love with her boyfriend (I felt like she was more in love with the idea of having a rich boyfriend), so her emotional heartbreaks make me scratch my head. Liu Yi Hao is wonderful as Allen, and his smile, those dimples, how can anyone doubt his sincerity. I love his conversations with TianTian and just how comfortable the two are with each other.
The backstory with TianTian and her adopted son is quite interesting, and makes me want to tune back in to find out more. The last scene where we find out how TianTian came to inherit her little shop has such a calm indie quality to it. (Perhaps this director should specialize on dialogue-free productions). I can understand what the writing is trying to do when setting this story up, and it makes me want to know more considering what it’s promising: Lost love, new love, sisterhood, motherhood, etc. There’s so much potential in this drama, and I can’t wait to watch the next episode, but the editing… The choppy scene to scene transitions give me whiplash. I hope that improves. It’s such a waste of the wonderful camerawork.
I will not be recapping since there are a couple of blogs out there already doing it, but I’m definitely going to be reviewing periodically.