Director Giddens Ko and star Michelle Chen in person July 1 & 2!

The biggest romance of the year, You Are the Apple of My Eye is the first film from best-selling novelist Giddens Ko. It’s based on his autobiographical book of high-school first love. Ko claims it’s 100% true, and that it’s also an apology to the girl who got away. Some apology. It’s gone on to become one of the most influential and popular Taiwanese films of all time, breaking box-office records in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and China.

Bratty troublemaker Ko Ching-teng (Ko Chen-tung) claims to be the only one of his circle of male friends not to dream of dating cute-as-a-button star pupil Shen Chia-yi (Michelle Chen). However, sometimes it’s the little things in life, like getting caught in a jerk-off competition in the back row of class, that can bring two young people together. The flabbergasted teacher seats Ko Ching-teng in front of Shen Chia-yi, assigning her the unpleasant task of keeping an eye on him—and she does, gouging him in the back with her pen whenever he gets out of line. Eventually, she takes an interest in helping him get serious about his studies and as the two spend more time together studying they become close, if unlikely, friends. But will he overcome his childishness—and Shen Chia-yi her seriousness—for anything to go further?

Romantic comedies are usually here today, gone tomorrow, but the memorable performances by newcomer Ko Chen-tung and veteran starlet Michelle Chen received glowing critical praise and a remarkable number of awards nominations. What distinguishes this movie from the glut of unremarkable rom-coms clogging most movie theaters is its courage in telling a coming-of-age story with embarrassing honesty. The unflinching self-awareness of its narrator, his relentless exposure of his own failings, and his convoluted journey of self-discovery tempers the cloying tendencies of the genre, presenting a rounded, moving portrait of a circle of friends growing up together.