Parents' Guide to

Your Name Engraved Herein

By JK Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Heartfelt but flawed coming-of-age romance has violence, sex

Movie NR 2020 114 minutes
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This tender romance too often falls into melodrama, but still manages to move the heart. In many ways Your Named Engraved Herein is a decent introduction to queer teen romance despite the film's tendency to veer into preachy moments. The two leads are excellent portraying their coming-of-age gay identities and their developing love for each other. They share confused sexual encounters, stolen looks and glances across classrooms and band practice, intimate trips to the sea, and moments of genuine love. Wang Po-te (Tseng Ching-hua), or Birdy, is a force throughout the film and his more serious and gloomier counterpart in Jia-han (Edward Chen) grounds Birdy's absurdity with a solid gravity and appreciation for his friend and would-be lover's wild nature.

Unfortunately, there are a few issues. The film meanders in the middle and ends poorly and is wholly unsatisfying. Mostly, though, Your Name Engraved Herein just gets melodramatic, often defending the existence of gay boys or homosexuality generally, as if it feels it has to first establish this fact before representing gay love. This heavy-handedness could be taken as part of the development of Taiwanese cinema, but it also could be simply be an antiquated representation of oppression and how to resist it, depending on who you are. Many scenes end up in overly dramatic dialogue, like when Jia-han wonders through tears, "Is my love not the same?" or like when Birdy's ex-wife decisively proclaims that, "liking boys is innate." Additionally, a lot of the drama involves physical assault, sexual assault, psychological shaming, bullying behavior, hate crimes, arguing, yelling, crying, shoving and pushing, running from threats and even ghosting. Not a lot of happy scenes. Positive scenes of queer intimacy do happen, but they're almost always cut short and fleeting. There may be a metaphorical explanation for this, but the pacing and plotting of the film still suffer for it.

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