Director: Raymond Yip
Cast: Daniel Chan, Qin Hai-Lu, Audrey Fang, Tat-Ming Cheung
Loving Him is the second film Manfred Wong co-produced with a film production company in mainland China. Compared to their previous collaboration Roots and Branches, the story of this film is way more traumatic and heavy. It is absolutely not a pleasant viewing experience.
This film leads a commonplace plot. Lu (Qin Hai-Lu) falls in love with Dong (Daniel Chan) at first sight when she first meets him in a small village in mainland China. Sometimes later Lu comes to Hong Kong and has a reunion with Dong, however, she discovers that Dong is dying.... This kind of plot device is very hackneyed and has been used in many films before. The filmmakers of this film simply follows the typical narrative structure of the same genre and there is no surprise at all.
One of the biggest problems of this film is, the mood is too depressive. Although the filmmakers did not insert too many tear-jerking elements into the film, overall speaking, the story is still too painful and sorrowful. There are too many tear-jerking moments. No matter the death of the little girl in the beginning or the ending sequence, the encounter of all the characters are just too unfortunate and they just weep too much. We all know that the dramatic quality of a tragedy is always more appealing and engaging than a comedy, however, it is really uncomfortable for the viewers to sit through the film if the story is too sad. Actually the topic of death does not necessarily have to be depicted in a pessimistic manner, for instance, Joe Ma's Funeral March successfully brings up a positive message through a story of death, Korean film Christmas in August is also able to handle the subject matter of death optimistically. Movie is a kind of entertainment afterall. Certainly the filmmakers can make their audience cry at any time, but they should also cheer them up at the right time. If a film does not give the viewers any hope at all, watching the film is really like a kind of torture. The only good thing about this film is that the filmmakers leave the ending open and let us imagine whether Dong has died or not.
Another problem of this film is the dialogues, especially the monologues of Qin Hai-Lu. They are just too rhetorical and unrealistic. This kind of dialogues may look good in a novel, but film and literature are two different media. These dialogues just don't seem to function effectively in the film, and it is probably due to this reason, Qin Hai-Lu's performance is not that good as compared to Daniel Chan. Obviously, Chan has spent a lot of time to study this character, the result is rewarding.
In conclusion, Loving Him is not a very bad film, the script and the direction are both handled properly. But don't expect any surprise, the whole film is just so plain and everything merely follows the cliche.
Reviewed by: Kantorates