|Index||2 reviews in total|
The "fallen city" is Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation in WWII,
but most of the story revolves around the time just before the actual
falling. While the plush hotel at Repulse Bay where most of the story
takes place has been restored and still carries its colonial flavor,
the story belongs to another time. This was a time when Pai Liu-So
(Cora Miao), a divorcée approaching thirty, was frowned upon for being
way ahead of her time. "Don't think legal papers of divorce would give
you the right to everything", yells her brother who took her back into
her family (together with her money that he quickly lost in reckless
speculation in the stock market), "laws are made and unmade every day.
It's traditions that really count".
Fan Liu-yuan (Chow Yun-fat), a westernized, financially successful playboy whom she encounters in Shanghai and then again in Hong Kong sees in her the "perfect Chinese woman". Most of the story takes place at the hotel in Hong Kong where Pai accompanies generous family friends on a trip. Typically helpless and introvert, scantily educated Pai nevertheless is witty and proud, enough so to deeply attract Fan, who idealizes her despite his abundant experience with women. Pai, who would probably make a successful professional or business woman at a different time in a different place, is practical and looks for a secured relationship in marriage. The seesaw between them goes on until the war and the fall of Hong Kong, when struggling for survival finally brings their souls together, so to speak.
Brought back as one of the week-long Valentine TV specials, Love in a Fallen City is not one of the sweet romances along the line of You've Got Mail or Sleepless in Seattle. It's from a troubled era when western influence challenged traditional values. Even more unique is the pre-WWII colonized world of Hong Kong. Director Ann Hui captures all these elements while moving along this love story that would have been so natural, but for an uncertain, changing world that warped everything.
Miao has the air of silent defiance that is perfect for the role of Pai. A recent stage production of the story, however, portrayed Pai's character as more positive and cheerful, which I like even better. Chow has all the charm and flamboyance needed to make Fan believable. The excellent rapport between them further confirms the great casting job.
The movie couldn't totally reflect the depth of the original novel. In
the original novel, Laoyuen is the guy who didn't want to settle down
and full of hesitation about the relationship with Liuso.
Liuso was the woman who sought for the psychological shelter which can protect her from the harm of family pressure due to the failure of her first marriage and financial contribution to her family. She would like to get the certainty for the relationship from Laoyuen but she dare not to tell her real feeling to him due to the social pressure? (most probably) At the time of the story background, women even have to suffer all of their sorrow without any complaint even the life was really difficult. Liuso was in paradox: on the one hand, she have to suffer all of sorrow without complaints and on the other hand, she sought for the breakthrough for her life.
Miao could take her part to interpret the sentiment of Liuso but the acting skill was unnatural.
Chow could reflected the characters and attitudes of Laoyuen: easy-going, unstable, irresponsible and hesitating.
The presentation skills of the conversation are weak. Supposed the conversation should be presented in serious tone but Chow made it just like a comedy (a bit like Stephen Chau's style of pretending serious at the time of talking joke).
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