A realistic look at Hong Kong modern romance…
Review by Neo: Along the lines of Cocktail, I’ll Call You and more recently Magic Boy, comes Love is Elsewhere. The good news is that the four aforementioned flicks have one thing in common and that is being a good movie. It’s never an easy task to not over exaggerate the preceding and end of being a cliché romantic comedy instead. Luckily the latest flick from the usual independent director Vincent Chui goes the route of trying to recapture the memories and feelings by choosing to base on true stories. While there are parts that may seem slightly exaggerated and the ending should have been chopped off without the cliché 1 month later scenario, Love is Elsewhere, somehow works and is able to connect with the audience. Then again, perhaps it is due to some parts of it, being uncanny similar to Neo on a personal note.
What Vincent Chui has achieved however may not be fully appreciated by those who are not the target audience. The target audience are probably those from eighteen onwards to late the twenties who have lived or experienced through the lifestyle of Hong Kong. It is probably weird to mention about why Neo got hit on such a personal note, maybe you can decide for yourself. Almost half a year ago, Neo went back to Hong Kong (being the first time in 9 years), and on the night of Christmas Eve, Neo met a girl at an upstairs bar and from there they started. They started even though knowing that both of them will be going their separate ways within two weeks (Neo going back to Australia and the girl back to Canada to study). Let’s not get into the details, as long as you get the idea. By the time you finish reading this and watching the movie, you will get the similarities. As for the ending, the current reviewer will leave it open-ended.
It must be complimented that this flick does enormously well in its capturing of that unique Hong Kong experience kind of feeling. Shot at the famous Lan Gwai Fong, the parties, the relationships, the happenings are all very distinctively Hong Kong culture. As an independent director Vincent Chui will always have more control and this is exactly why Neo will criticise the manufactured ending to make the movie more crowd pleasing than it should be. It doesn’t take Neo to tell you that life does not always provide an answer for everything and something should be left as it. The way the film ended with a stupid and typical commercial friendly “1 month later” is appalling. The movie should and could have captured that unfulfilling emotions within the audiences’ hearts if end on that note, but the result now is a feel good ending, where everything is solved. Neo isn’t blaming the director, as he probably had no control over the ending, but it is something that can be classified as yet another missed opportunity.
Some credits must also be given to the script writing, although one must admit that sometimes, film exaggerates circumstance in an attempt to make it more dramatic and emotional. The problem with that is disillusioning from its realism core and attributes. The manner how the cousin devises a plan to revenge her former boyfriend for dumping her is a noted example of the above point. Still, there is a lot to like about this flick and some dialogue is well spoken. The catch line from Pak-Ho in dumping a girl is classic, “love has already become friendship and soon friendship will become feeling sorry for each other.”
Without skipping the performances altogether, one must admit, everyone (from Yumiko Cheng Hei-Yi, Sherman Chung Shu-Man, Chelsea Tong, Pakho Chow Pak-Ho, to Jason Chan Pak-Yue) performs their roles as required. The Canadian girl (Chelsea Tong) will suitably cute and played her role with certain believability about her. Then again, it may all be due to the reminder it serves Neo. Chow Pak-Ho does well on his debut and likewise the rest of the cast. While one may be thinking that everyone is acting well, it is probably because the role allowed them to play a modern Hong Kong-der, in other words, in some ways, themselves. It must also be mentioned that even Yumiko is adequate, now it is without question that Neo probably got hit pretty hard on the personal note.
All in all, Love is Elsewhere, deals with real and prominent issues in regards to modern romance. Ignoring the crappy ending, Vincent Chiu is without question a talented director and his ability to capture the spirit of modern Hong Kong romance is to be complimented. While Love is Elsewhere, will not win any awards, and is probably not as good as a film that Neo is biasing about. It remains a good entry to 2008 HK cinema that will appeals and satisfy more of its targeted audience. Without being a total pessimistic and cliché, life rarely goes as planned and unlike most movies, some questions or experiences may not have an ending/answer. Before Neo drops off and say good bye, it goes back to a saying from Dan in Real Life: “so plan to be surprised!” By the way, Neo is bias… (Neo 2008)
I rate it 8/10