19 January 2011

Village Film Review: Lover's Discourse《戀人絮語》


What is love? Or what lovers experience when they are in love? We are told that the Chinese word "戀", one of the many Chinese words sharing the meaning "love", signifies what Roland Barthes might like, fragments of discourse in one's heart. From there young directors Derek Tsang and Jimmy Wan presented us with what they called "empirical examples" of what love is in Lover's Discourse《戀人絮語》.

Nancy (Karena Lam) and Ray (Eason Chan) met one evening at the crowded and confusing Causeway Bay. Like any other couples who spend their evening out, they didn't know where they should go and what they wanted to do. Unlike other couples, it turned out their romantic relationship had ended some obscure time ago. Nancy and Ray in the end both confessed that they still miss each other. In the middle of a kiss, Nancy's phone rang and it's time for her to go back to her boyfriend. What would happen even Nancy and Ray couldn't tell.

Paul (Jacky Heung) received some online messages from a stranger one evening, telling him that his girlfriend, Nancy, had been seeing another man. At the other end of the line, Kay (Mavis Fan) was in a major confusion and she needed a company in that; she felt that her boyfriend, Ray, had been seeing somebody but she was not sure. Kay and Paul decided that they would find out the truth together. The search for the truth turned out to be at the same time a search for what holds two persons together. Twelve years ago, Paul the teenager (William Chan) didn't know why his best friend's mother (Kit Chan) still clung onto the marriage, when she had known her husband (Eric Tsang) was having an affair. Paul wanted her "Auntie" to be happy; or it's more like the young Paul actually wanted her. We thought the setting was perfect for Paul and "Auntie" to make it to the bed, but they didn't.

These stories all shed certain light to the question of what makes two persons clinging onto a relationship. Is it something they miss about each other when they're not together? Is it because we do not bother moving on and finding a new love? Or is it just the confusions about everything in between, like not even knowing what to do and where to go, that fascinate us?

There was another story about a young laundry shop keeper Gigi (Kay Tse) having a crush on Paul's childhood best friend Sam (Eddie Peng), who's a regular customer. This story seemed to be the most enjoyable and funniest part of the movie, judging from the giggle among the audience. However, there's something I don't quite get. Why in Gigi's imaginations, Sam became a mannequin/puppet? Is it intended to be comical and tell us how laughable a crush can be? Or the hidden meaning is way too deep for me to apprehend? This story seems to me to be rather pointless and has undermined the depth and variety of emotions in a crush. Or, I just don't get it if they've tried. The forced acting by Kay Tse there only made the story more incomprehensible. The whole section reminded me of Kay Tse's Watson's commercial, especially with the tune she sang in the middle. To be very honest, I paid more attention to Kay Tse's costumes, which showed her suggestive pair of legs dangling the flip-flop and the figure under her tight tees more than her acting there.

Some people are better off singing than acting, some, sadly speaking, are better off not showing their faces in any screen whatsoever. Every time Jacky Heung showed his face on the big screen, he's dead seriously angry. When he's following Eason Chan, he is angry. When he's driving Karena Lam around, he's angry. When he's meeting Mavis Fan the first time in a cafe, he's also angry. Yes, we know one must be very angry when his girlfriend is seeing others, especially when your girlfriend is Karena Lam. But for fuck's sake, this is not A Fistful of Stances, you're not about to kick Eason Chan's ass when you found out the truth.

The cinematography of Lover's Discourse《戀人絮語》is brilliant. Many of the scenes in the film can be frozen and framed into good photographs. The background music, other than that cliché tune hummed by Kay Tse, and the sound effects go well with the pictures. It is a beautifully made film and I enjoyed the 117 minutes spent. Mavis Fan rendered convincingly the helpless and confused young woman. Kit Chan proved again some singers can act (while others not) and it's refreshing seeing her again on the screen. Karena Lam certainly picked a good film as her last; she's so naturally beautiful playing Nancy and she will definitely be missed.

In the end, what's the answer to the question we asked at the beginning? The film might have told you nothing other than showing you the puzzling and confusing experience you might have when you are in love. After all, as we're told at the beginning of the film, love probably cannot be reduced to neurological reactions in your brain, in that case they are much easier seen and understood objectively.

1 comment:

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