Zhi Hui (Huang Pin Yuan) is a hardworking blue collar worker that has to sweat under the sun everyday in order to support his family. He is happily married to Xiu Mei (Rene Hou) with a daughter (Gao Jing Rong). However, his life changes from good to bad when she is diagnosed with cerebellar atrophy. Zhi Hui finds it hard to accept the reality of his wife?s illness and decides to take care of her by pushing the wheelchair with his wife and travel around the island. He brings her to listen the sound of the waves and watch the sunset. Together, the family endure the sweetness and the hardship of life.
ocal TV variety show hosts put their comedic abilities on pause and turn on their softer sides to tell audiences a true story about the physical and emotional journeys that a married couple goes on after the woman is diagnosed with a degenerative genetic disease.
Last year's Golden Bell-winning TV host Rene Hou (侯怡君) gives a surprisingly good performance in “Leaving Gracefully” (帶一片風景走) as Hsiu-mei (秀美), a wife and mother who loses physical control of her own body due to Spinocerebellar Ataxia, an inherited disorder of brain function.
Hou, who as a TV actress has had her share of infamously trashtastic dramas, interprets her role so naturally that you forget all about them. She outshines every actor and actress in the film.
After his wife's diagnosis, Chih-hui (智輝), played by singer and TV show host Huang Pin-yuan (黃品源), goes through a period of denial before accepting the bad news. He decides to modify a wheelchair and, despite the doctor's disagreement, take his other half on a tour around Taiwan.
Huang's public image as a family man has only contributed to his rather convincing performance as the patient and loving husband of an ailing wife.
With their strong bond, the couple touches everyone around them, even their daughter, whose attitude about her mother's illness went from anger to very sappy, and the indifferent doctor who diagnosed Hsiu-mei.
Actress Sharon Kao (高靖榕) leaves little lasting impression as the teenager, her character's interactions with the couple are cliché and superficial. Not enough time is given to her relationship with her mother, resulting in her emotions seeming phony. For this reason, she was annoying in the rebellious stage, as most likely intended, but does not become any more likeable after she has a change of attitude as the story progresses.
In the beginning of the film, author and playwright Hsiao Yeh (小野) overacts his role as an apathetic doctor, to the point that he is almost comical at a time when he really shouldn't be.
There are plenty of cameos by local TV personalities, presenting moments of lightness for a heavy topic.
The film highlights the need for more attention to rare illnesses like Spinocerebellar Ataxia. Chih-hui finds out that pharmaceutical companies do not pursue cures for the disease because the market for the drug will be too small for the companies to generate sufficient profit.
“Leaving Gracefully” (帶一片風景走) marks the directorial debut of veteran TV show host Peng Chia-chia (澎恰恰), who was approached by the Taiwan Spinocerebellar Ataxia Association (中華小腦萎縮症病友協會) to do a movie based on a book titled “Million Steps of Love” (百萬步的愛).
Peng gives the film a nice touch by allowing the audience to hear Hsiu-mei's thoughts, reminding them of her full mental capacity despite her troubles in speech and unsteady motions.
He keeps the story simple. But while it saves the audience from artificial overdramatic ordeals, lacks character development and, as a result, is difficult to feel much of an emotional engagement.
The true story behind the “Leaving Gracefully” is undoubtedly touching but the film doesn't warrant recommendations. However, a documentary made before the film is worth a watch.