Field Trip

By Yu-Wei Chang | Drama
An awkward boy is secretly dating the popular girl. But he wants to tell his class.

Ching Wei is on a trip with the rest of his class. Awkward and ungainly, he's the class clown who entertains his fellow students with his goofiness, and his only real friend is Ling, his partner in the show the class is putting on. But he's also in a secret relationship with one of the most popular girls in the class, Yu, though they pretend they don't hang out.

But when the class puts the students near one another, dynamics begin to shift between everyone. Ching Wei wants to make his romance with Yu public. But the struggle to do so may also reveal the limitations of their affection.

Written and directed by Yu-Wei Chang, this gently observed short drama captures one eventful weekend in a young man's life. The muted naturalism and subdued pacing put the focus on the roiling teenage emotions, and also perfectly captures the struggle of a hidden relationship and the insecurity it engenders.

Ching Wei is locked into a particular role in his class, who always expect him to be goofy and entertaining. He fulfills that role to the hilt, as it gives him his place in the school's social ecosystem, though the jibes about his body and his appearance sting underneath his impassive demeanor. Actor Chien Chung Tseng's performance subtly shows that Ching Wei's heart isn't really into the antics -- he only becomes fully present and engaged when he's concerned with Yu, whether watching her from afar or talking in their limited public interactions.

But as he struggles with his feelings for Yu and the fact that he can't openly express them, viewers see also a more sensitive and vulnerable side come out. The dialogue is sparse in the film, with the student banter functioning more of like a texture capturing the milieu than expressing anything directly.

When Ching Wei does talk with Yu privately and directly, both are awkward and shy. When she is reluctant to make their relationship public, he becomes insecure and needy. He acts out in awkward ways, leading to both self-realization and heartbreak.

With a compassionate eye for what it feels like to be an outsider, body-shamed and limited to a narrow role, "Field Trip" is both a teenage romance and a coming-of-age story, where an identity broadens or opens up in a new or unexpected way. Though Ching Wei's love brings him pain, judgment and sorrow, he also comes to a clearer understanding of his true friends and, more importantly, who he is. It's hard-won knowledge, but it also gives him an acceptance that ushers in a melancholic peace.

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