Secret (2007 film)

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Secret
Secret-Bunengshuodemimi2.jpg
Promotional poster for Secret
Directed by Jay Chou
Produced by J.R. Yang
William Kong
Written by Jay Chou
To Chi-long
Starring Jay Chou
Gwei Lun-mei
Anthony Wong
Alice Tzeng
Music by Terdsak Janpan
Jay Chou
Cinematography Lee Ping-pin
Distributed by EDKO Film (Hong Kong)
Cathay-Keris Films (Singapore)
Innoform Media (Singapore)
Release dates
  • July 27, 2007 (2007-07-27)
Running time 101 minutes
Country Taiwan
Language Mandarin
Box office $8,968,358[1]

Secret (traditional Chinese: 不能說的秘密; simplified Chinese: 不能说的秘密; pinyin: Bùnéng shuō de mìmì; literally "The Secret That Cannot Be Told"), is a 2007 Taiwanese film. It is the directorial debut feature film of Taiwanese musician Jay Chou, who also stars as the male lead and co-wrote the movie.[2]

The Secret Original Soundtrack was released by JVR Music on 13 August 2007.[3]

In 2007, it received six nominations at the 44th Golden Horse Awards and won Outstanding Taiwanese Film of the Year, Best Original Song for "不能說的祕密" (Secret) by Chou and Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for Best Asian Film at the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards in 2008.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Ye Xianglun (Jay Chou), a music student majoring in piano, transfers to Tamkang (Danjiang) Secondary School. It is a school famous for musically talented students, especially in piano. On the first day of school, as he wanders through the piano building, he hears a mysterious melody being played that leads him to Lu Xiaoyu (Gwei Lun-mei), another piano major. When he asks her about the song she was playing, she tells him that it is a secret that cannot be told. The two develop a relationship that is clouded in mystery. When Xianglun tells Xiaoyu about the demolition of the piano building on graduation day, she teaches him the mysterious song.

However, when a mis-passed note leads to Xianglun accidentally kissing another student Qing Yi (Alice Tzeng) who was interested in Xianglun, Xiaoyu disappears for five months, only to return on graduation day and mysteriously disappear again. Xianglun asks around and discovers from Xiaoyu's mother and his father (Anthony Wong Chau-sang) that Xiaoyu was actually a student from the class of 1979, who graduated 20 years ago. His father tells him she claimed she traveled forward in time to the present with the help of a piano piece called "Secret" that she played on an old piano in the piano building. She had fallen in love with Xianglun, but the only barrier is that, in the present, the first person she sees on each trip is the only person that can see her.

When Xiaoyu saw Qing Yi kiss Xianglun, she returned to her normal time. During her absence at home, her story spread and everyone believed that she was mentally ill. Remembering that the piano room would be destroyed on graduation day of 1999, she tried time traveling to see Xianglun one last time, but she spotted Xianglun wearing Qing Yi's bracelet. Believing that Xianglun now belonged to Qing Yi, Xiaoyu returns to her own time with a heavy heart. Due to an asthma attack, while writing on her desk trying to leave a message to the boy she loves, Xiaoyu dies heartbroken. The message formulates in the present due to the fact that Xiaoyu would not have written the message if she had not seen Xianglun wearing Qing Yi's bracelet. Xianglun sees the writing on the desk and desperately tries to write back using white out but when he gets no response he rushes to Xiaoyu's house only to find her room empty. Xiaoyu's mother finally recognises Xianglun as the boy her daughter had drawn a picture of twenty years before and Xianglun learns the truth about her time travels.

After finally learning of Xiaoyu's story, Xianglun realizes that the piece that she taught him was "Secret", which had the power to take the pianist forward or backward in time depending on the tempo at which it is played. He rushes off to the piano room, which is about to be torn down. Xianglun's father retrieves the manuscript of the musical piece that Xiaoyu had given to him for safekeeping, then realises that Xiaoyu had written a secret message for Xianglun. Meanwhile, Xianglun enters the piano building and as the demolition begins, Xianglun starts to play "Secret" from memory, recalling something Xiaoyu told him while teaching him the piece: "I always play it that fast when I go back". Just before the piano room is completely destroyed, Xianglun travels back to 1979. Because the time traveled backwards is dependent on how fast the user plays "Secret," it is likely that Xianglun was able to travel to a time before Xiaoyu found "Secret" due to the fact that he was one of the best pianists in the school and most likely could have played the piece faster than Xiaoyu. He sees Xiaoyu, and she sees him and smiles. The last scene is when the 1979 Tamkang (Danjiang) Secondary School graduation picture is taken, in which Xianglun and Xiaoyu are present. As the old piano and the piano building have been destroyed, Xianglun stays forever in the past with Xiaoyu. The magic that the time machine possessed was destroyed when Xianglun traveled back in time at the moment the piano was destroyed. This explains why Xianglun was able to appear on the 1979 graduation photo and live a normal life in 1979.

Cast[edit]

Actor Character Relationships
Jay Chou Ye Xianglun (葉湘倫) A music student majoring in piano and lives with his father
Gwei Lun-mei Lu Xiaoyu (路小雨) A music student who lives with her mother
Anthony Wong Chau-sang Xianglun's father (湘倫爸爸) Xianglun's father and the discipline teacher at his school
Alice Tzeng Qing Yi (晴依) Xianglun's classmate who is in love with him
Devon Song Aba (阿宝/阿寶) Xianglun's friend and member of the rugby team often seen together with Ah lang
Huang Junlang (黄俊郎) Alang (阿郎) Xianglun's friend and captain of the rugby team often seen together with Ah bang
Yuhao Zhan Yu Hao (雨豪) A music student and talented piano player, nicknamed "Prince of the piano", he had a "piano battle" with Xianglun

Production[edit]

The film tells a "simple but very beautiful" love story, which Chou denies was adapted from his personal experiences.[4] When the film debuted, Chou admitted that he drew from childhood experience for the plot, although his personal story was not as romantic.

Filming for the movie began in January 2007 and was completed in March.[5] Despite previous experience in filming music videos, Chou admits that movies are much more challenging due to storyline complexity and time constraints.[6]

Because Chou was worried that people might question if he actually directed the film himself, he even refused veteran director Andrew Lau Wai Keung to visit him during shooting. However, Chou says that he did send a pilot film to Lau afterwards.[4]

Chou has announced his plans to direct a sequel to the film and plans to invite Andy Lau to star in it.[7]

References to personal history[edit]

Chou added elements to the movie that suggested he was paying tribute to his high school and his favorite composer Chopin.

  1. 淡江中學(Tamkang (Danjiang) Middle School): 2007 marks the 10th year he left his school.[8] In the movie, he incorporated elements which reflected his actual experience in school, such as his stint as pianist for the school choir.[9] In the movie, he was the orchestra’s pianist and played during high school graduation.
    1. The date on the board when Xiao Yu first goes to class is January 18, 1979 - Jay Chou's birthday.
  2. Chopin:
    1. Right at the beginning of the movie, a lesson about Chopin was being taught in class. He was described as a gifted musician and composer.
    2. There were two paintings in the music room that were supposedly Chopin and his beloved (George Sand). The conversation between Xianglun & Xiaoyu was about Chopin and his lover. Xianglun lamented that the two eventually parted ways. However, Xiaoyu seemed envious that the couple was able to spend 10 years together, which for the couple, was possibly a long time.[10]
    3. Chopin's Waltz (Op.64 No.2 C# minor) and "Black Key" Etude (Op. 10 No. 5) feature in the 鬥琴(Piano Duel) scene. Note that the melodic sequence of the "Black Key" Etude that is performed in the movie includes both the introductory black key sequence, as well as an improvisation in which the introductory theme of the etude is transposed a half step higher and is played almost entirely on the white keys.
    4. Another one of Chopin's waltzes, the L'adieu waltz, plays in the background briefly at the beginning of the movie.
    5. In the middle of the movie, just before Xiaoyu talks about the relationship between Chopin and Sand, Xianglun plays an excerpt from Chopin Nocturne No.21 in C minor.

Reception[edit]

For about an hour Secret delivers a highly satisfying love triangle that made me like it. Then it turns into something else that made me love it. Chou's directorial touch is patient and slightly melancholy and reflective.

Combustible Celluloid[11]

According to Cinema Online, Chou does a better job behind the scenes than in front of the camera. The pace of the story is satisfying, cinematography is beautiful and Chou is able to convey the magic of music: "You leave the cinema with the image of Chou's fingers dancing over the piano keys, creating that extraordinary music. It will be the image of Chou playing the piano one-handed, playing two pianos at the same time, and playing the piano with his upturned face in dream-like bliss. That is what makes this movie worth the watch. As I said, its salvation. Music, so it seems, really can be magical."[12]

LoveHKFilm.com agrees that Chou is not the best male lead for a romantic role, he is not able to produce the range of emotions needed to touch moviegoers. Instead, the female lead Kwai Lun Mei was praised for her excellent acting. The critic regards the film as a nice, romantic, fairly good picture and that Jay Chou directs with an able hand. Cinematography and art direction was also praised for its beauty, as well as the movie score. The critic regards the illogical story as the biggest disadvantage for the film, saying that the plot often does not follow its own rules, creating logical gaps. The supporting actors were found to be boring, with the exception of Anthony Wong, who was praised for his acting diversity. According to the critic, there is a certain chemistry between Chou and Kwai but their dialogues lack depth and emotions, largely due to Chou's inability to act well. He regarded Chou as a likable, charming presence but utterly without any passion on screen, being too distant in his emotions.[13]

Asianmovieweb is surprised to see Chou as a good director but dismisses him as an actor. The soundtrack is praised for its beauty as well as the cinematography and the attention Chou paid to tiny details. The critic also mentioned the logical gaps in the story being very distracting.[14]

Variety regarded the movie surprisingly good, with decent acting (apart from Chou) and praised the music as well. The critic sees South Korean cinematic influences in Secret and compared the style of the movie to early Hollywood pictures from the 1940s and Taiwanese pictures from the 1970s.[15]

movieXclusive.com states that it is rare to see such a well directed picture from a musician-turned-director but Chou is able to "pull it off". Casting choices were praised especially with regard to Anthony Wong and Kwai Lun Mei, the latter being praised for her ability to create a secretive air around herself. The best part of the movie according to the critic is the "onslaught of piano performances" that were compared to action scenes of Jet Li and Tony Jaa. However, the critic was not satisfied with the editing and pacing of the movie but nevertheless regarded the film as a successful piece of art.[16]

Combustible Celluloid named Secret one of the "most enchanting, captivating features" of the 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival.[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Secret won three awards out of seven nominations from the 44th Golden Horse Awards in 2007 and 27th Hong Kong Film Awards in 2008.

Year Award Category Nomination Result Ref
2007 44th Golden Horse Awards Best Supporting Actress Alice Tzeng Nominated [17]
Best Visual Effects Victor Wong, Eddy Wong, Yiu Ming Cheung, Donnie Lai Won
Best Original Score Terdsak Janpan and Jay Chou Nominated
Best Original Song "不能說的‧祕密" (Secret) by Jay Chou
released in Secret
Won
Outstanding Taiwanese Film of the Year Secret Won
Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year Jay Chou Nominated
2008 27th Hong Kong Film Awards Best Asian Film Secret Nominated [18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Secret". BoxOfficemojo. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
  2. ^ "Jay Chou Plans Directorial Debut Next Year". english.cri.cn. 2006-09-04. Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  3. ^ (Chinese) JVR Music Secret OST album info 13 August 2007. Retrieved 2011-07-01
  4. ^ a b "Jay Chow Takes Directorial Debut to Shanghai Festival". english.cri.cn. 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  5. ^ "Jay Chou the Director". english.cri.cn. 2006-12-24. Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  6. ^ (Chinese) "Jay Chou directs for the first time/ "The Secret That Cannot Be Told" filmed in his high school 周杰伦首次执导 《不能说的秘密》回母校取景". sina.com.cn. 2007-02-23. Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  7. ^ "周杰伦筹拍《不能说的秘密2》 找刘德华PK魔术" (in Chinese). QQ. 2009-02-01. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  8. ^ 杰威爾音樂 JVR Music
  9. ^ 杰威爾音樂 JVR Music
  10. ^ Chopin - biography
  11. ^ a b Anderson, Jeffrey M. "Secret". Combustible Celluloid. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  12. ^ "Secret (2007)". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  13. ^ "Secret (2007)". LoveHKFilm. Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  14. ^ "Secret Review". Asianmovieweb. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  15. ^ Elley, Derek (2007-10-22). "Secret Review". Variety. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  16. ^ Lim, Richard. "Secret (2007)". movieXclusive.com. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  17. ^ (Chinese) Golden Horse Awards official homepage 44th Golden Horse Awards winners and nominees list Retrieved 2011-06-15
  18. ^ (Chinese) Hong Kong Film Awards official homepage 27th Hong Kong Film Awards winners and nominees list Retrieved 2011-06-15

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
None
Golden Horse Awards for Outstanding Taiwanese Film of the Year
2007
Succeeded by
Cape No.7