Calmi Cuori Appassionati

Calmi Cuori Appassionati

Rating: 6/10
Year: 2001
Genre: Love
Director: Isao Nakae
Cast: Yutaka Takenouchi, Kelly Chen, Michael Wong, Ryoko Shinohara, Kippei Shiina

Florence, a spiritual symbol of the golden age of Renaissance; Yutaka Takenouchi, one of the most handsome actors in Japan; Kelly Chen, a gorgeous pop singer from Hong Kong, when these three elements are put together, you should be able to expect how exquisite and delicate this film is going to look like.

It features a typical love story. Junsei Agata (Yutaka Takenouchi) is a restoration expert in Florence, Italy. His job is to restore old paintings from decaying. Through the years Junsei has been unable to forget Aoi (Kelly Chen), his ex-girlfriend. One day, he sees Aoi again in Florence and he remembers a promise he made with Aoi ten years ago...

It is a very slow-paced movie. What I don't like about it is the pointless prolongation of scenes. The plot is quite simple, but every simple matter is turned into complicated affair. A three minute decision can be prolonged to a thirty minutes deliberation. Junsei often fails to express his feeling toward the one he loves. For instance, he never communicates with his father properly, he does not understand what he thinks at all. He does not offer any opportunity for Aoi to discuss her pregnancy too. The pace and the transition lag seriously due to the vacillation of the characters. This film is absolutely not suitable for people who lack patience.

Back to the story itself, the love affair between Junsei and Aoi is always oscillating. Junsei does not know if Aoi still loves him or not, Aoi is also uncertain if she should accept Junsei again. It is a genuine account of a dynamic relationship. The director understands that he is not shooting a fairy tale, the story will end up dry and insipid if the relationship is always stable. One interesting take is the parellel of Junsei's profession and his love. He is good at restoring paintings but bad in restoring a deteriorated love relationship. This irony is sharp and sarcastic.

In terms of the cinematography, which I think is the essence of this film, every scene and every actor are beautifully shot. I am not sure if it is the VCD itself or not, most of the scenes seem to be coated in blue tint. The blue setting intensifies the depressed atmosphere of the story a lot. Yutaka Takenouchi and Kelly Lin look perfectly glamorous in the film, their good commands of languages (Italian, Japanese and English) make their roles convincing. However, to me, what is most unforgettable is not the love affair between Junsei and Aoi, but the teacher/lover relationship between Junsei and his Italian teacher. Conflict makes good drama. What makes this relationship appealing is its uncertainty and the ambivalence of the characters' minds. As an audience, it is always a pleasure to watch something that cannot find a resolve easily.

With clever use of cinematography and mood music, Calmi Cuori Appassionati is a sophisticated sculpture carved and polished by a skilful sculptor, but this is a sculpture without a soul, what it lacks is depth of meaning and redeeming value.

VCD (HK version) - The VCD version features a double audio track, one is in the original trio language and the other in Cantonese. Ignore the Cantonese version please, unless you can tolerate the absurdity of seeing Italian and Japanese speaking Cantonese. The image and sound qualities are not bad, but in order to appreciate the decent cinematography of this film, the DVD is an inevitable choice.

Cool guy(s) - Yutaka Takenouchi, Kelly Lin

Reviewed by: Kantorates