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’18×2 Beyond Youthful Days’: Formulaic tearjerker searches for true love

Medical melodramas generally give you the diagnosis, fatal or otherwise, up front or save it for later in the story. In the first category is Michihito Fujii’s 2020 drama “The Last Ten Years,” which indicates the fate of its young protagonist (she has only ten years to live) right in the title. The latter includes the director’s new tearjerker, “18×2 Beyond Youthful Days.”

Based on a travel essay by Jimmy Lai and written by Fujii, this co-production between Japan and Taiwan delays the big reveal to almost 90 minutes. The intention may have been to heighten the poignancy, but for most of the film I thought I was watching the story of a barely requited teenage crush.

Hsu Kuang-han, also known as Greg Han and headliner of the 2023 Taiwanese hit ‘Marry My Dead Body’, stars as the main character at the ages of 18 and 36. Kaya Kiyohara, who was brilliant as a teenage romance in the 2021 Koji film Maeda comedy “You’re not normal either!” plays his older love interest who sends him into the “friend zone” from day one.

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