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The Personals (1998)

Zheng hun qi shi (original title)
An attractive and successful doctor places a personal ad in a newspaper to try to meet (and eventually marry) Mr. Right. A succession of blind dates ensues, featuring men who are lonely, desperate, dangerous and perverted.


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A metaphysical mystery about the lives of three couples in Taipei that continually intersect over a span of several weeks.

Director: Edward Yang
Stars: Cora Miao, Pao-Ming Ku, Wang An


Credited cast:
Rene Liu ...
Dr. Du Jia-zhen
Wu Bai
Chao-jung Chen
Pao-Ming Ku
Shih-Chieh Chin ...
(as Shi-Jye Jin)
Eli Shih ...
(as Yi-nan Shih)
Chao-ming Wang
Wen-hsi Chen
(as Niu Cheng-tse)
Hsueh-Liang Pu
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ming-jie Cai
Ko-cheng Chang
Chen-ta Chou
Chia-lin Chu
Wen-cheng Hsu


An attractive and successful doctor places a personal ad in a newspaper to try to meet (and eventually marry) Mr. Right. A succession of blind dates ensues, featuring men who are lonely, desperate, dangerous and perverted.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Romance





Release Date:

9 October 1999 (Malaysia)  »

Also Known As:

Heiratskandidaten  »

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User Reviews

A Poignant Story Expertly Told
15 April 2001 | by (Southern California) – See all my reviews

The premise may sound like a romantic comedy: an eye doctor quits her job to find a husband through personal ads, but it's not. Sure, the film has quite a few comic moments with the string of unsuitable suitors who responded to her ads. But the film has a melancholy current just below the surface. We, the audience, could feel it, but didn't know the source of the current until the end. It's a very intelligent film that comprises of almost nothing but dialogues and the dialogues are in Mandarin. So for anyone who doesn't like to read subtitles or dialogues, this is not for you. (Fortunate for me, Mandarin is my native tongue. :-) Not that I have any problems with subtitles since I grew up with subtitles.)

I don't want to spoil any details. The film was basically made of this eye doctor Du's meeting with various men in a teahouse in Tian Mu, a surburb of Taipei. Through various shots, we sensed the desperate loneliness and isolation in Du, a 30 something attractive but a bit naive woman. It's something most people who live in metropolies can relate to. Rene Liu's performance was simply excellent. The subtle reactions to the wild stories/pitches her suitors told. The vulnerability when she poured her heart out on the phone to the answer machine of her former lover. The wordless heartbreak at the end. Rene Liu's performance was so convicing that I felt I knew this woman personally and I cried with her at the end. The film also contains some of the most blunt discussions of homosexuality. But despite the poignant story at its core, the film never dips into melodramatics or histronics. It also avoids the pretentous artsy traps (which "In The Mood For Love" got into a few times). The only flaws I can say about this film are that a certain unsuitable suitors were a bit too stereotypical (for comic effect no doubt) and the meetings with various suitors went on a bit too long. But through the long process of meeting these men, we sensed there was a reason for Du's detachment and it was revealed at the end.

Since I grew up in Taipei, various references in the film were amuzing to me. One was a real life actor who showed up to meet Du told her she must be a graduate of Jing Shing when she said he looked familiar. Jing Shing is a private school I graduated from. The smog-shrouded citiscape of Taipei looked both familiar and unfamiliar (because it has changed so much since the last time I saw it). Those characters' mannerism was familiar, so familiar in fact that I suspected some of them might not be professional actors. I only recognized three professional actors in the bunch: Ching Shi Jieh (as a lonely and stingy grade-school teacher), Nu Cheng Zer (as himself) and Gu Bao Ming (as the security equipment salesman I think). Ching is a great stage actor in Taiwan. He made a wonderful guest appearance in the film. I'm sorry to say I can't place the actress Rene Liu. I haven't paid close attention to Taiwan's actors/actresses since I left.

An old couple sought me out after we walked out to ask me my interpretation of the ending. Both of them thought it a very emotional film. Yes, it's a very emotional film, and for a single woman, it hits a bit too close to home. :-)

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