Love in Space 全球熱戀
Contemporary romantic comedy
2011, colour, 2.35:1, 101 mins
Directed by Wing Shya (夏永康), Tony Chan (陳國輝)
By Derek Elley
Fri, 23 September 2011, 10:36 AM (HKT)
Pop-coloured rom-com of three sisters' love problems is charming throwaway entertainment. Asian outlets.
Beijing, the present day. Wannabe chef Mary Huang (Xu Fan) has three daughters - eldest Meigui, aka Rose (René Liu), middle Yulan, aka Lily (Gwei Lun-mei), and youngest Mudan, aka Peony (Angelababy), who still lives at home. Peony's longtime driver is Hua (Liu Jinshan), who holds a torch for the widowed Mary. Rose, an astronaut on her first mission, is on a space station orbiting the Earth with experienced astronaut Michael Chen (Aaron Kwok), who just happens to be her former boyfriend. Over-tense, and obsessed with procedure, Rose can't stop herself trying to find out from the laid-back Michael why they broke up and whether he still loves her. Meanwhile, in Sydney, overseas art student Lily is told by her psychiatrist (Chapman To) that the best cure for her molysmophobia is to fall in love again. By chance she meets Australian-Chinese Johnny (Eason Chan) and after a rocky start they eventually start dating. However, Johnny works for his father's rubbish-collection company, which presents a seemingly insoluble problem for Lily and her hygiene obsession. Meanwhile, in Beijing, famous model-actress Peony, who has just received the Worst Actress Award for her role in martial arts movie Seven Star Fists, decides she should gain some real-life experience to help her with her next part, a waitress in the musical Full Moon in Paris. She applies "incognito", as Xiao Huang, for a job in a backstreets coffee bar, where she gets to know fellow server Wen Feng (Jing Boran). But after falling for him, Peony can't bring herself to reveal her true identity.
Like its two predecessors Hot Summer Days 全城熱戀 (2010) and The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman 刀見笑 (2010), Fox's third Chinese-language production is essentially several stories intercut into a single feature. Butcher, directed by Wuershan 烏爾善, was a much more homogeneous production as the stories did have an over-reaching dramatic arc, whereas Days, with no overlapping content, tended to jerk back and forth between its five uneven tales. Love in Space 全球熱戀 (2011), directed by Days' Tony CHAN 陳國輝 and Wing SHYA 夏永康, goes the Butcher route, with its four threads (set in Beijing, Sydney and Outer Space) centred on a single family and even slightly overlapping. With more evenness between the stories, and a consistent visual syle, Love emerges as a smoother, more involving, if totally throwaway modern rom-com.
The main surprise is that the Outer Space story, with Hong Kong's Aaron KWOK 郭富城 and Taiwan's René LIU 劉若英 playing snarky ex-partners alone in a lunar module, manages to sustain interest when nothing much is really happening apart from small emotional shifts. It's the least conventional and "purest" of the four stories, and set in an antiseptic, enclosed environment; but thanks to the low-key chemistry between Kwok (looking his most relaxed in some time) and Liu (having fun as a rule-obsessed rookie) there's no sense of the movie stalling whenever it cuts back to their story. The Sydney-set tale, with Taiwan's GWEI Lun-mei 桂綸鎂 as a hygiene-obsessed love victim who meet a rubbish collector played by Hong Kong's Eason CHAN 陳奕迅, is basically a single joke kept alive by the grinding gears of the two very different actors. However, its content is the most cliched, with writers Chan and Lucretia HO 何敏文 resorting to melodramatic staples to fill in the middle going.
If there's an acting revelation in the movie, it's the performance of Shanghai-born, Hong Kong-based model Angelababy 楊穎, 22, as the youngest sister, Peony. First seen accepting a Worst Actress award, and then "working incognito" in look-at-me specs and loud pop-art clothes, Peony is the daftest but most entertaining of the rom-com siblings — a role that Angelababy overplays as much as she underplayed her pigtailed, smalltown worker in Hot Summer Days. Her co-star here and in Days — Mainland singer JING Boran 井柏然 — pretty much gets lost in her bow wave until the quieter ending.
Chan and Shya's switch of d.p. to Bartek KACZMAREK (What the Sun Has Seen, 2006) has resulted in a candy-coloured, semi-fantasyland look that pays off emotionally in the closing stages. Editing by Hong Kong's Wenders LI 李棟全 and producer Fruit CHAN 陳果 (under the pseudonym Eighteen 田十八) is trim: though the film treads some water round the 70-minute mark, it still manages to leave a happy lump in the viewer's throat at the end.
ContactSales: Fox International Productions, US (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Theatrical release: Hong Kong/China, 8 Sep 2011; US, 9 Sep 2011.
Presented by Huayi Brothers Media (CN), Fox International Productions (US), Fox International Productions (Greater China) (HK), Sundream Motion Pictures (HK). Executive producers: Wang Zhongjun, Stephen Ng, Carrie Wong, Wang Zhonglei. Producer: Fruit Chan.
Script: Tony Chan, Lucretia Ho. Photography: Bartek Kaczmarek. Editing: Wenders Li, Eighteen [Fruit Chan]. Music: Eddie Chung. Production design: Sean Kunjambu. Art direction: Li Yang. Costume design: Sean Kunjambu. Action: An Wande.
Cast: Aaron Kwok (Michael Chen), Eason Chan (Johnny Chen), René Liu (Huang Meigui/Rose Huang), Gwei Lun-mei (Huang Yulan/Lily Huang), Angelababy (Huang Mudan/Peony Huang), Jing Boran (Wen Feng), Xu Fan (Mary Huang, the mother), Liu Jinshan (Hua, Mudan's driver), Hito Du (Fatty), Gordon Liu (Mr. Chen, Johnny's father), Chapman To (Yulan's psychiatrist), Liu Yu (King, Peony's manager), Zhu Zixiao (Zhu, the Sydney DJ), Han Li (reporter), Zhao Lei (cafe manager), Cheng Qingsong (awards ceremony MC), Grace Huang (Bunny, the dim sum trolly girl), Zhang Junning (Pierre), Shao Long (monk in Seven Star Fists), Sun Dongyang (director of Full Moon in Paris), Han Yuye (young Meigui), Lü Sijin (young Yulan), Yao Honghemei (young Mudan).