Directors: Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai
Jimmy Liao (illustrated book), Ka-Fai Wai (as Wai Ka Fai)
Stars: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Gigi Leung, Edmund Chen, Terri Kwan
Based on an illustrated book, this is a charming little film about fate/destiny/serendipity/yuan-fen or whatever other term you wish to use. Kaneshiro is the main reason to catch this film. He once again elevates what would have otherwise been a very ordinary film. Leung also deserves credit here as I feel she is perfectly cast for her part. They are both very enjoyable. Liu (Kaneshiro) and Choi (Leung) are two average people trying to make their way in their world.
Liu is a struggling musician while Choi is a professional translator hoping to do more poetry. Time and time again the two leads (who barely actually spend time together on screen) miss each other in the hustle and bustle of their lives. Fate it seems is keeping them apart until the right moment, although we later find out they have met once before. They meet once again, and fate intervenes once more to keep them apart. Will they ever be together? I’ll leave that for you to find out for yourselves.
Amongst all this, we have two other completely crazy characters in Dr. Hu (played manically by Edmund Chen) and Ruby, a small take-out store owner (played with much gusto by Terri Kwan). These two provide the majority of the comedic elements of the film (or the annoyance) as the ‘friends’ who start to ingratiate themselves into their opposites lives. And then go out of their way to make sure our adoring destined couple do not meet.
The directing is good, some thoughtful dialogue and the cinematography is fantastic. A story about two umbrellas destined never to meet, or to be together. There is a lot of visual symbolism in the film, and I’m sure as with many Asian films, a lot of the cultural subtlety is lost on a Western audience. But this does not detract from the beauty of the film, nor its quality or message.
There is nothing groundbreaking or new here, but it does tell its story in a compelling enough way to whisk you away and into their world for a short time and keep you guessing. If only Hollywood could make them like this. By the time it had finished, I came to the realisation that I’d pretty much been smiling all the way through it. You can’t ask for much more.
The Sage’s Rating: