Movies about women who fly off to foreign climes to reboot their lives are a thriving subgenre, though the heroines are mostly from well-off countries, Japan included. Women from the more troubled parts of the world may also cross borders to start new lives, but their motives are less often self-discovery than self-preservation.
So it's not easy, initially, to work up much sympathy for Aiko (Mei Kurokawa), the 26-year-old heroine of Koji Hagiuda's travelogue-cum-drama "Nanpu (Riding the Breeze)." True, her boyfriend has just dumped her for a younger woman and she has been transferred from the job she loved — editor of a fashion magazine — to a special projects post she considers to be a step down. Then, after she arrives in Taiwan to cover a cycling event, a Chinese-speaking former colleague, who she had counted on for help, begs off, pleading pregnancy. What's a girl to do?
The resourceful Aiko decides to cycle the island herself to reach the event's starting line, but entering a bike store to rent a bike, she finds the spitting image of her ex-boyfriend's new lover in Tong Tong (Theresa Daley), a pretty 16-year-old who dreams of becoming a fashion model. When Tong Tong volunteers to become her guide — with the secret aim of traveling to a model audition (and lies about her age to boot) — Aiko declines at first, but, after a rocky start, gives in. Together they begin an adventure that will have life-changing consequences for both of them.