Sunday, March 6, 2011

All About Love | 得閒炒飯 [ Movie Review ] ★★★1/2

The Pitch

Vivian Chow (周慧敏) returns to the big screen after 14 years of absence and she took on a role as a lesbian. How's that for a comeback? Not only that, she is paired with Sandra Ng (吴君如) (the comedic maestro in Hong Kong) as a pair of lesbian lovers reuniting in a very strange circumstances.

All About Love is directed by Ann Hui (許鞍華), one of the renown directors in Hong Kong and produced by Wong Jing (王晶) (renown of lowbrow entertainment flicks). Strange combination but these days, they collaborated for Night and Fog before and that was one of my favorite Hong Kong movie in recent years.

The Plot

Macy (Sandra Ng) and Anita (Vivian Chow) used to be lovers until Macy left her. They reunite at a pregnancy talk after 12 years later. Even though they are both pregnant, they are still single and there are still chemistry between them. As they took long walks in sending each other home, they recount about how they got pregnant.

Anita hooked up with Mike (William Chan) a blind date who turned out to be a quick draw but he was a quick and accurate shot and pretty soon, Anita found out that she is pregnant. As a mature pregnant woman, the doctor assured her that it will be all right if the male donor is healthy. Taking that in account, she seek her one night lover out and realized that he is only an university undergrad who is approaching 20.

Macy pregnancy on the other hand had it's own interesting tale. Her law firm was running out of funds and in desperation, she took up the job of defending Robert (Eddie Cheung) a wife beater. After listening to his side of story, she advised her client on how give his wife the proper love instead. Her method worked and her wife decided not to sue the wife beater. Their celebration eventually turned into a night of affair and like Anita, Macy became pregnant in the most unlikely circumstances.

After the meet up at the pregnancy talk, the feeling between them reignited. But as they resumed their relationship, there are still some obstacles in their way. The two sperm donors / fathers were still hounding them. Macy was still having commitment issues and would like her lesbian friends who are having problem with child adoption to adopt her unborn child. Anita on the other hand would like to raise their children as one happy family (like what happened in The Kids are All Right).  To top it off, Anita had to face discrimination at work for being a unwed pregnant mom.

The Perspective

All About Love had a pretty good start. A whimsical romantic introduction to the characters had a mixture of European flavor with distinctive Hong Kong backdrop. The ladies enjoying each other company at Hong Kong iconic outdoor escalators evokes an image of romance in Paris. It had the seductive setup to start a forbidden romance or simply rekindling the feelings of the past.

Vivian Chow still look that stunning after so many years of retirement from showbiz. Even though she had aged considerably, she still retain that screen presence that still make her still so ever desirable. It's also good that she had pass her prime so that she could take on controversial roles that she couldn't take on when she had to uphold her pop idol squeaky-clean image. In a way, it's became more liberating for her to choose her roles (if she does really want to end her retirement). 

Sandra Ng gave a commendable performance as the bisexual butch. She made it believable that both gender would fall for her. Her comedic touch is not wasted here either. Some of the funniest scenes in All About Love came from scenes involving her.

Eddie Cheung and William Chan were pretty amusing as Robert and Mike, the supporting males. Mike's embarrassing premature ejaculation and how he handle the situation was quite funny. Robert's funniest moment came about when he gave the real reason why he abuse his wife, it was so funny that it seems that Sandra Ng can't help but break into laughter.

There's also some interesting discussion on Bisexuality and Homosexuality for a straight guy to absorb. Specially when Macy visited a lesbian group to find out that their views on sexuality clashes and intolerance goes both ways.

However, the story loses steam after the third quarter. It was taking on to many issues for it's own good. Especially Anita being discriminated at work was as weakly staged as the street protest shown in this movie. It also felt like the filmmaker didn't know how to end the movie. Macy's lesbian friends with adoption issues felt like an unnecessary addition to the movie. It might have been better if the focus was on Macy, Anita, Mike and Robert's unique love rectangle.

There no erotic sex or even nudity between Vivian Chow and Sandra Ng in All About Love but the chemistry between still sizzles. Pretty good performance by the key players in this movie but it's a pity that the script couldn't work out a proper climax for this movie to end.

Beyond the Movie

The Chinese title for this movie, 得閒炒飯 is a slang for When You are Free, Let's have Sex or Having Leisurely Sex. 得閒 (De Xian) would mean "When Free" and 炒飯 (Chao Fan) would mean Fried Rice / Fry Rice. It was said that in Taiwanese context, the 炒飯 (Chao Fan) also means the act of sex. There you have it, De Xian Chao Fan, When Free Have Sex!

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