Wednesday, December 14, 2005

PERHAPS LOVE: Right step for Far East musicals

(musical in Mandarin)
Time: 103 mins
Rating: * * *

Jacky Cheung and Zhou Xun
DANCE musicals have never been a strong point in Chinese and Japanese cinema, probably because of their cultural and social traditions. The few recent efforts were forgettable: A Fishy Story (1989), The Phantom Lover (1995) and dance drama Para Para Sakura in 2001.
This makes director Peter Chan’s Perhaps Love a bold and flashy move that may help to give a fillip to the genre in the Far East.

Fashioned after Hollywood’s Chicago and Moulin Rouge, this Mandarin-Cantonese effort boasts of splashy dance numbers, rich costumes and sets, beautiful photography and a pan-Asian cast and crew that includes Malaysia’s Farah Khan as choreographer. However, its triangle love tangle which is told in confusing flashbacks may be a bit too arty for many viewers.

The story is introduced by a ringmaster-like narrator called Montage (Korean TV star Ji Jin-hee) who promises to put scenes back into people’s lives after they have made the wrong choice. A circus atmosphere, with artistes and acrobats, then comes alive in the opening number which turns out to be a movie set being filmed in a studio in Shanghai. The movie’s director, Nie Wen (Jacky Cheung) is troubled. The China Press has accused him of using a Hong Kong star Lin Jian-dong (Takeshi Kaneshiro) but the big problem is that Lin is an old flame of the movie’s lead star, Sun Na (Zhou Xun) with whom Nie is now in love.

However, when Lin meets Sun Na on the movie set, she denies ever knowing him — and this sets off a series of flashbacks that delves into their love story. The movie shuttles back and forth between the past and present, and even mixes musical numbers from the movie and those of ‘real-life’. To some, this may be seen as ‘art’ — a device that provides a surreal effect on love and heartbreak. To others, it is plain confusion that muddles up the storyflow.

The main weakness is that there is no cohesive style in Aubrey Lam and Raymond To’s script. Also, the fast and choppy editing does not help matters. It is thanks to Takeshi and Cheung that the jist of the story manages to get across to the audience. The two male leads manage to convey their pain and frustration of their relationship with the pixieish Sun Na and we are able to root for them. Cheung also renders a heart-rending number that reminds us of a scene in Phantom Of The Opera. China starlet Zhou Xun serves more like eye candy in a role that is not properly interpreted. Her dance numbers are engaging, though. Also, watch out for Sandra Ng and Eric Tsang in cameos as movie producers.

Perhaps Love marks a successful collaboration among Asian film-makers and we should be proud of Farah Khan’s contribution.


At 4:10 pm, Blogger hida said...

A good effort by a Chinese production. However, the plots did got a little confusing especially when I had to read the subtittles( I know no Mandarin or Cantonese) and at the same time concentrate on the scenes as well. The dance scenes were too short, didn't really had time to appreciate the beauty of it.
But it was beautiful in how they potrayed the pain suffered by the two men especially through singing and music.
It felt like watching Phantom of The Opera except in Chinese. Hope that more productions could come up with this kind of movie in the Chinese movie scene.


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