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I fell in love with the introductory analogy. Life is like the movies, in which you are the director, producer and the star. In your life, there are other co-stars, and of course, that significant other. But what if you happen not to be sharing the limelight in your other's life? Editing is always a pain, and in the final product, you will then learn if you are sharing the same billing, get relegated to a cameo, or in the worst case, get cut out entirely and lie on the floor of the editing room.
Similarly to my 2004 movie of the year, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this film too takes a look at the trying to forget someone in your life entirely. Except in this one, there is no faux-pas scientific methods, but done by sheer human will and pretense.
This is a musical within a musical, and a beautifully choreographed one at that. First thoughts will be, hey, it looks like Moulin Rouge, with big colourful sets, dancers, singers, stunts, and songs with meaningful lyrics. Yes, and given similar themes like Love and Hate, but Perhaps Love tells its own story. The soundtrack befits the musical, and I won't be surprised if anyone adapts this for the stage too.
Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro plays Lin Jian Dong, a struggling film student when he met his love in Beijing. When the film begins, he's already an accomplished actor, and chances upon that same love in his latest movie collaboration. He's not the least surprised at being given the cold shoulder, and goes all out to try and win her back. But exactly what his motivations are - love, revenge, closure, that one pleasure filled fling, remained to be seen.
Much is said about his ability to sing (or lack thereof), but I felt that he sang convincingly in this movie, and fleshed out his role as the pained lover realistically. When his final intentions are revealed, you can't help but to emphatise - yes, that perhaps what he did was justified.
Contrasting Kaneshiro's character is Jackie Cheung's Nie Wen, the auteur director with his mood swings. His current lover and muse is Jian Dong's love in Beijing, and he comes to discover this fact after filming begins. He feels cheated upon, hurt, and channels his raw emotions onto the film. There should be no doubt as to Cheung's singing prowess - powerful is the one word summed up, though I thought it's always the same song? Between the two male leads, his is surprisingly magnanimous, and shows true courage as compared to Jian Dong.
Chinese actress Zhao Xun plays Sun Na, the woman caught between the two men. One is her lover in a past she wants to forget, while the other is her lover who brought her stardom in the present world. It's a highly complicated-in-emotions role, one which explores, and for those in love, might have felt in one way, or at some points in time. When you feel your love is holding you back, would you give it all up to pursue your dreams? Sun Na is one such woman, who will stop at absolutely no cost, and jump on every available opportunity presented, to seek fame and fortune. And it is she who walked out of Jian Dong's life at least twice, to be with an American director, and later, with Jian Dong's assistant director friend, before we currently see her in the present.
Ignoring Jian Dong when they meet in their new film, she can't help but feel her icy walls being broken down by his persistence, though Jian Dong had assistance from Korean Jin Ji-hee's role as Montage, a spirit who interacts with all characters and weaves in and out of the plot, bringing about a feel that there's always that higher being involved in events that unfold in life.
And the way the characters interact is probably fused so seamlessly into the musical, within the musical. Unable to express themselves freely, they do so through the musical's story, premise, and lines. It doesn't feel contrived, but the entire narrative seemed flawless. Even the flashbacks doesn't mar the pacing of the film, but brings about a natural progression and revelation of character development and events.
Perhaps Love is a truly wonderful experience, especially for those who have been in the same ship before. Its ending isn't typical, but one which perhaps is the most realistic an ending can be for the characters involved. Peter Chan has crafted a beautiful masterpiece of a musical for the Hong Kong film industry. Catch this on the big screen before its run is over!
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