Movies and music stand out as two tangible elements in pop culture capable of capturing the intense emotions of first loves. The turbulent, sweet, and (occasionally) amicable nature of first love serves as inspiration for numerous scripts when crafting films. Typically unfolding during the crucial teenage years, these movies tend to depict a love destined for complications and heart-wrenching outcomes, covering a range of emotions from painful separations to fate-driven reunions. Here are nine Asian films that will make you relive the magical moments of your first love. 

96 (2018)

  • Director: C. Prem Kumar
  • Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Trisha Krishnan, Devadarshini, Bagavathi Perumal
  • Country: India

96 follows Ram (Vijay Sethupathi), a photographer and nature enthusiast, as he explores different parts of India to capture special moments. During a spontaneous visit to his hometown Tanjavur, he takes a nostalgic trip down memory lane, reminiscing about his school days in 1994. In particular, Ram’s past as a student who had romantic feelings for his classmate Janu (Trisha Krishnan) creates a heartfelt and reflective storyline.

Labs Kita…Okey Ka Lang? (I Love You…If That’s Okay) (1998)

  • Director: Jerry Lopez Sineneng
  • Cast: Jolina Magdangal, Marvin Agustin, Hilda Koronel, Ronaldo Valdez
  • Country: Philippines 

Bujoy (Jolina Magdangal) has a hidden crush on her longtime friend Ned (Marvin Agustin). Their close friendship takes a complicated turn when Ned develops strong feelings for Bujoy’s friend Mary Ann, creating a challenging situation for Bujoy as she grapples with unrequited love. The film explores the complexities of relationships and the emotions that arise when friendship and romantic feelings collide.

You & Me & Me (2023)

  • Director: Weawwan Hongvivatana, Wanwaew Hongvivatana
  • Cast: Thitiya Jiapornsilp, Anthony Buisseret, Supakson Chaim
  • Country: Thailand

Identical twin sisters You and Me (both played by Thitiya Jiapornsilp) are inseparable and share every part of their lives. Their world turns uncertain when their parents decide to separate, leading to a move to Nakhon Phanom Province. As the twins navigate adolescence, a bittersweet love story unfolds with the arrival of a boy named Mark (Anthony Buisseret). The film highlights the nuanced nature of first love, exploring its simplicity as an evolving emotion and its complexity, too. In You & Me & Me, we see the twins put their sisterly bond, family ties, and friendship to the test.

Jatuh Cinta Seperti di Film-film (Falling in Love Like in Movies) (2023)

  • Director: Yandy Laurens
  • Cast: Ringgo Agus Rahman, Nirina Zubir, Sheila Dara Aisha, Dion Wiyoko
  • Country: Indonesia

Boasting warmth, tenderness, and a sense of humor, Falling in Love Like in Movies follows the story of Bagus (Ringgo Agus Rahman), a screenwriter who secretly falls in love with his high school friend, Hana (Nirina Zubir). Hana, a grieving widow who just lost her husband, inspires Bagus to secretly write the story of Bagus’s reunion with Hana into a movie screenplay.

Our Times (2015)

  • Director: Frankie Chen
  • Cast: Vivian Sung, Darren Wang, Dino Lee, Dewi Chien
  • Country: Taiwan

Truly Lin (Vivian Sung), an ordinary office worker often teased by her colleagues, finds solace in listening to old cassette tapes of Andy Lau’s songs. This immediately transports her back to her high school days when she was a student with a crush on the most popular guy in school, Taiyu (Darren Wang). The film explores Truly’s journey from being a regular office worker to revisiting the memories of her teenage years through the nostalgic tunes of Andy Lau.

Love Letter (1995)

  • Director: Shunji Iwai
  • Cast: Miho Nakayama, Etsushi Toyokawa, Miki Sakai, Takashi Kashiwabara
  • Country: Japan

Love Letter unfolds the story of Itsuki and Hiroko (both played by Miho Nakayama) — two minds connected from afar — sharing the memories of a man. This film beautifully explores the unconventional bond that transcends distance and time. As Hiroko attends her fiancé Itsuki’s memorial, she discovers a surprising connection when she receives a reply to her letter. Love Letter reveals a twist involving a girl named Itsuki Fujii, his old classmate with a shared name.

Mukhsin (2006)

  • Director: Yasmin Ahmad
  • Cast: Syafie Naswip, Sharifah Aryana, Salehuddin Abu Bakar
  • Country: Malaysia

Mukhsin tells the heartwarming tale of a twelve-year-old Malaysian boy’s awkward yet nostalgic journey into first love with a spirited girl. It forms a gentle and comedic prequel to Yasmin Ahmad’s “Sepet” and “Gubra.” With a sweet and poignant touch, the movie captures the essence of first love and offers a glimpse into diverse family dynamics across the town.

Us and Them (2018)

  • Director: René Liu
  • Cast: Jing Boran, Zhou Dongyu
  • Country: China

In Us and Them, Xiaoxiao (Zhou Dongyu) and Jianqing’s (Jing Boran) first paths cross 10 years ago during the bustling Spring Festival. Like many classic love stories, the plot explores the enduring impact of romantic connections despite  distance and the circumstances that originally led to Xiaoxiao and Jianqing’s separation — and a chance encounter a decade later. Us and Them serves as a tribute to the authentic and imperfect yet life-affirming connection shared by two individuals, exploring their nonlinear journey through romantic intimacy and the lingering impact of financial struggles. 

Soulmate (2023)

  • Director: Min Yong-geun
  • Cast: Kim Da-mi, Jeon So-nee, Byeon Woo-seok
  • Country: South Korea

Soulmate follows the journey of Mi-so (Kim Da-mi) and Ha-eun (Jeon So-nee) as they explore the changes in their relationship as they go through life. A small rift emerges when Ha-eun experiences her first love with classmate Jin-woo (Byeon Woo-seok) in their late teens. While Mi-so pursues adventure in the city and Ha-eun chooses a stable life in her hometown, the physical distance between regions, particularly against the backdrop of Jeju Island, becomes a crucial element. By highlighting contrasting lifestyles and character aspirations, this dynamic gives a unique twist to the movie adapted from Anni Baobei’s novel Hello, MY SOULMATE.

Looking for more movie recommendations by EnVi’s ACT!ON Team? Check out our list of 5 API Sundance Films here!