Explorations Happen on ‘The Rooftop’!

One’s first time with their special someone should feel exciting and special, so how come You Cheng feels anxious and is having a panic attack instead? Watch this young man as he discovers himself in this short coming-of-age movie.

The Rooftop

The Rooftop,” is a 19-minute Taiwanese short produced in 2020 and was chosen as an official selection for many Asian queer film festivals. Award-winning actor Jhih Ciang Hu plays the enigmatic Jing Hao alongside new-generation actors Zong Hua Yang and Vivi Yeh, who both appear in the short film as You Cheng and Wen Ting, respectively. A young person’s journey of sexual intimacy and self-discovery is shown in this Po Cheng Teng-directed film.

The film opens with You Cheng in his bedroom, watching something intently on his laptop. Moments from a sexual encounter with his girlfriend, Wen Ting, flash through his mind, and his hand lingers on his clothed crotch. The couple makes out in an empty classroom. Trying to go further, Wen Ting unbuttons her school uniform, making her boyfriend do the same meekly. You Cheng’s eyesight starts to go bleary as he looks at Wen Ting’s exposed chest. He covers his girlfriend with his uniform shakingly and steps back. Wen Ting tries to kiss him, but You Cheng continues to move back, leaning on the window. He starts having a hard time breathing, inducing a panic attack. Back to the present: You Cheng hears his mom coming to his room, he pretends to sleep while his mom leaves the door open. His phone buzzes from a message on their school’s group chat, where a secretly recorded video of a female classmate taking off her clothes in one of their classrooms is being shared. Someone’s view from the school rooftop appears to be the source of the video.

Watch “The Rooftop” on GagaOOLala.

During Self-Study, You Cheng sneaks out and goes to the rooftop. While munching on his sandwich, he tries to record the classrooms from his view with his phone but sees nothing. He goes to the other side of the rooftop and walks silently towards a sleeping figure on the floor. The sleeping figure, stark naked, is delinquent schoolmate Jing Hao, who is always being reprimanded by their teachers. Jing Hao turns around unconsciously, revealing the front part of his bare body. Cheng couldn’t help but gaze at his sleeping schoolmate’s physique; he felt his own body responding to the view.

On the other hand, Wen Ting tries to convince the female classmate in the secretly recorded video, who happens to be her friend, to report the incident to their teachers. However, her friend continues to say No due to embarrassment. Realizing that she cannot persuade her, Wen Ting tells her to reveal the location instead when the video was covertly taken.

You Cheng, who is still on bad terms with Wen Ting, is taking a shower at home when his mother opens the door and peers in. His father enters the bathroom and instructs You Cheng to stop using the shower and turn around. You Cheng turns around and avoids staring into his father’s eyes while concealing his privates with his hands. You Cheng follows quietly as his father orders him to take off his hands, chastises him, and then walks out scoffing. Later in that evening, unable to sleep, You Cheng shuts his constantly open bedroom door and takes off his clothing. He masturbates and watches himself in front of the mirror, slumping down miserably after.

The following day on the rooftop, You Cheng drags Jing Hao, who is about to strip and go to sleep, as they watch three male classmates stand in the same place as where the deceptive film of Wen Ting’s friend was shot. The boys try to spot if there is any girl that can be recorded from their location when they see a figure emerging from one of the classrooms. Unbeknownst to them, the figure is actually Wen Ting, who is aware that she can be seen from the rooftop.

Meanwhile, Jing Hao tells You Cheng that he is not afraid to be seen by anyone and teasingly asks the latter how many times he has peeped at him. You Cheng tries to deny, but Jing Hao proceeds to taunt him further, lowering his clothing and remarking on how attractive his body is, to which You Cheng nods in agreement. Jing Hao moves closer to You Cheng who looks at him nervously.

Standing at the same place where her friend was maliciously shot without consent, Wen Ting starts unbuttoning her school uniform knowing that there are eyes and camera watching her. The boys enthusiastically record her from afar.

At the same time, Jing Hao encourages You Cheng to remove his uniform and praises his physique, which makes the latter shy. Jing Hao snatches You Cheng into his arms and begins to remove his pants for him as he rises to do so. When Jing Hao reaches under You Cheng’s underwear and touches his private area, the two engage in playful interaction. You Cheng is abruptly brought back to the embarrassing memory of his father ordering him to reveal himself. Additionally, he recalls touching himself in front of his mirror. He begins to breathe rapidly and experiences a panic attack. Jing Hao instructs him how to breathe in an effort to calm him down.

With the knowledge that she is still being recorded, Wen Ting suddenly turns back and snaps a photo of the boys, causing them to flee in error. Checking her phone for her collected evidence, she realizes that her uniform is still off and starts to take photos of herself provocatively with just her bra on while caressing her body.

You Cheng apologizes to Jing Hao numerous times while still in a panic, and he keeps soothing him. You Cheng nods emotionally as Jing Hao reassures him that he hasn’t done anything wrong and that it’s okay not to understand everything. He continues to explain that if they knew everything at once, there wouldn’t be a reason to go to school anymore. As the two embrace one another, You Cheng sobs on Jing Hao’s shoulder.

Although “The Rooftop” may seem like just another film about a person coming to terms with their sexuality, it actually provides a more thorough examination of how people express and accept intimacy. It shows how one’s surroundings, including family and friends, can affect how inhibitions and preferences manifest. Another issue that is amply illustrated is the fact that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation—basically anyone on the spectrum—has unfulfilled inner needs.

 

Watch “The Rooftop” on GagaOOLala.

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