• Film

New Asian Cinema: As We Like It (Taiwan)

In May 2019, Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, embracing a world of non-binary and gender equality. Last year, director Patrick Liu’s Your Name Engraved Herein became the first LGBTQ-themed film to surpass NT$100 million in Taiwan’s domestic box office. Dear Tenant, another film about Taiwan’s LGBTQ community won two top prizes – Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress – at the Golden Horse Awards that same year.

With political progressivism, Taiwan cinema has welcomed more versatility and adaptability. In March 2021, As We Like It, a film with an all-woman cast was released theatrically. A retelling of Shakespeare’s play As You Like It, the film follows young Rosalind’s journey of searching for her father. When she meets Orlando, a charming man who quickly falls in love with her, Rosalind decides to disguise herself as a man named Roosevelt so that she can focus on the hunt for her father.

Set in Taipei in the near future, As We Like It weaves a visually stimulating picture full of fairy-tale settings, colorful costumes and illustrative animations. While it centers around the love story of Rosalind and Orlando, the film also alternates between two other couples who all live in a neighborhood with no internet. As Rosalind searches for answers about her vanished father, she explores the endless possibilities of being a man in a society that breaks the traditional binary wall. Though scenes of cutting her hair short and stuffing her crotch with socks might seem lacking in originality, As We Like It goes far above and beyond in depicting many details of what it takes to be a woman, particularly in a non-binary world.


By casting women to play male characters, the film’s co-directors Chen Hung-I and Muni Wei explicitly reference the Shakespearean era when women were excluded and marginalized while all roles were played by men. Hsueh-Fu Kuo and Aggie Hsieh, the film’s two lead actors, embody an androgynous style and challenge conventional conceptions of gender and sexuality with their versatile performances. As Hsieh’s character Orlando falls deeper for Rosalind’s disguised identity, Roosevelt, he starts to question his own heterosexuality, which adds a delightful and thoughtful touch of queerness to the film.

Though both based on Shakespeare’s play, this film and Kenneth Branagh’s 2006 adaptation, share very few similarities. Instead, the Taiwanese version found its roots in director Li Han Hsiang’s 1963 Huangmei Opera musical, The Love Eterne, where actresses play both male and female roles. The Love Eterne won six awards at the second Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, including Best Picture. It was also the Hong Kong entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in 1964. In As We Like It, the co-directors boldly chose to include actual Huangmei Opera scenes as an homage to this traditional Chinese art form.

The film marks co-director Muni Wei’s directorial debut and her partner Chen Hung-I’s fifth feature. It was an official selection at this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam. Transcending the clichés of many of Taiwan’s contemporary romantic comedies, As We Like It offers a refreshing ensemble performance that makes it one of Taiwan’s most interesting films this year.