Starry Starry Night (2012) - Rotten Tomatoes

Starry Starry Night (2012)

Starry Starry Night (2012)

Starry Starry Night



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Starry Starry Night Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

When Mei falls in love with Jay, a new transfer student at her school, love at first sight takes hold, providing her first journey into adulthood and what soon becomes her fondest childhood memory. Amongst her parents' divorce and bickering and her grandfather's death, Mei finds solace in Jay even as they begin a perilous journey into the mountainous wilderness to find her grandparents' home. As they venture into the starry, starry night, they get lost in a storm that leads them towards a greater destination.more
Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Tom Lin
In Theaters:
Box Office: $4.4k
China Lion Films - Official Site


Rene Liu
as Mei's Mother
Harlem Yu
as Mei's Father
Kenneth Tsang
as Mei's Grandpa
Janel Tsai
as Jay's Mother
Stone Mayday
as Teacher
Gwei Lunmei
as Mei (adult)
Xu Jiao
as Xiao Mei
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Starry Starry Night

Critic Reviews for Starry Starry Night

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (6)

The cumulative effect is more that of a handsomely crafted museum piece than a moving, emotional journey.

Full Review… | September 13, 2012
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Tom Shu-Yu Lin tackles death, divorce, loneliness and first love with the eye of a painter and the heart of a child.

Full Review… | July 5, 2012
New York Times
Top Critic

A somewhat clunky family movie about childhood escapism, alternating a little too conveniently between the grim and the adorable.

Full Review… | July 5, 2012
Seattle Times
Top Critic

[Lin] can't make up for the fact that the film wants to say more about the fragility of childhood than it's capable of communicating through its characters and their delicate, perpetually uncertain situations.

Full Review… | July 5, 2012
Village Voice
Top Critic

A whimsical coming-of-age tale that takes a common theme - growing pains - and transforms it through exquisitely rendered CG effects and a heartfelt storyline.

Full Review… | March 22, 2012
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Full Review… | July 6, 2012
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Starry Starry Night


There's a rare, and gratifying feeling once a seemingly mundane children's movie surpasses the modest ambitions of its generally mediocre genre, and attempts to be something far greater than the paint-by-numbers predecessors which came before it. Without the usual Pixar animated treasure to fit the bill (though Brave was undoubtably decent, it's far too generic to fall into this category), 2012 might be considered to be one of the worst years for kid's movies in a very long time. Even with last year's hopefully forgotten Cars 2 debacle, the genre was saved by both Gore Verbinski's animated western Rango, and master filmmaker Steven Spielberg's motion-capture adventure The Adventures of Tintin; films which not only proved entertaining for all ages, but were also two of my favorites to be released in 2011. Surely the genre is in dark times at the present, but have no fear: Starry Starry Night, Taiwanese director Tom Lin's beautifully shot adaptation of the popular Chinese picture book of the same title, is the sweet, though slightly flawed, kid's movie we've been waiting for.

Jiao Xu stars as Xiao Mei, a somewhat awkward seventh grader, as she is uses her childlike innocence to interpret the unflinchingly realistic world surrounding her. It seems as though her entire life is crumbling apart in a matter of weeks: The unexpected passing of her loving grandfather, the declining marriage and eventual divorce of her two generally inattentive parents, the hurried entry of an equally awkward crush and his even more unanticipated exit. Rendered in the symbolism of her beloved Starry Night jigsaw puzzle falling apart, Lin's screenplay depicts these tragedies with striking honesty, never succumbing to dumbing down the somewhat grim material for his audience. At many points in the film, I was curious as to whether Lin would pull back the necessary blunt truthfulness, but was near overjoyed he remained with the un-PC, un-Hollywood style to the very end. However, rather than allow the bleak subject matter to dominate the film, Lin occasionally uses Michael Gondry-esque daydream sequences from the perspective of Xiao Mei to show what the domestic and personal tragedies appear like when viewed from the outlet of childhood innocence. These colorful, hypnotically dreamy scenes offer an interesting contrast to the domestic drama surrounding it, and also in a broad way, allow the film to still be enjoyable for younger audiences.

The one major flaw of the film, is Xu's unnecessary, preachy narration. For a film that succeeds so well in using imagery to show what dialogue would only muddy, the narration, especially an extraneous concluding monologue, serves to be downright pointless. At best, it simply regurgitates already learned exposition, but at worst, it adds nonessential treacle to a film which prides itself on realism. Though this is may seem like a slight complaint, it really damaged my enjoyment of the film. Also unnecessary is a coda set in Paris many years later, but the sequence is sweet enough that its inclusion isn't an issue. Nothing is any better or worse due to its existence.

Though this may seem as a tangent in relation to the rest of the review, there's a powerful scene featured in the film which may very well be one of the best standalone sequences of the year, and absolutely deserves to be brought up. It's a scene in which Xiao Mei and her mother, played by Rene Liu, are going out to dinner the night before the divorce is revealed. While they enjoy their meal, the mother asks if Xiao remembers a dance she had taught her as a young girl, to which Xiao replies yes. Almost immediately, a sweet, and enjoyably awkward musical number happens inside the restaurant between the mother and daughter dancing together to an older jazz song. However, while Xiao appears to be having a fun time dancing with her mother, something seems slightly wrong with her dance partner. A minute or so of dancing passes, and Xiao returns to her dining table, but her mom continues to dance, not realizing her daughter has left her. For around a minute, Lin keeps the camera directly on the mother without any cuts as she slowly realizes her daughter has already left. There's something equally haunting and graceful about this scene: Both actors give terrific performances for the sequence, and Lin's direction is nothing short of perfection. It's a subtle moment, but one that deserves recognition.

Despite it's flaws, Starry Starry Night is without question the best children's movie of the year. Going far beyond the ambitions of the regular features of its ilk, Lin has directed a both magical and realistic tribute to childhood itself that won't soon be forgotten. In a dark time for children's movies, Starry Starry Night is a shining beacon of hope. If you have kids mature enough to handle the somewhat grim themes, you can't do too much better than this.

Grade: B+

David Unterberger

A movie where pre-teens are still innocent and fairy-tale types characters cohabit with real ones. The fairy world makes the real one less tough and makes you want to believe in origami animals and animal sculpture again. Our world needs more Jimmy Liao illustrated books.

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