As a little girl, Dodo cannot walk. She associates herself with "The Little Mermaid" and wonders if she would give up something of her own in order to own a pair of feet. Fortunately, she gains a pair of feet after an operation, and hence is indulged in collecting and wearing beautiful shoes and heels even after she has grown up. She marries Smiley, a handsome but shy dentist. They live a happy life, except that Dodo still keeps buying shoes. Later, she reluctantly accepts Smiley's request to stop buying shoes, until one fateful day when she accidentally walks right into the shoe store ... Written by
L.H. Wong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FOCUS: First Cuts is a series of films showcasing some of the works from up and coming Asian directors. Supported by Andy Lau's Focus Films, we'll be seeing a slew of 6 movies, the first being the Taiwanese movie The Shoe Fairy, starring Vivian Hsu and Duncan Lai, directed by first timer Robin Lee.
The Shoe Fairy is a modern day fairy tale. One which isn't kind to its genre to begin with, highlighting the evil witch and wolf characters and their impending bloody demise in each tale. The Chinese title "Ren Yu Duo Duo" will already hint about the fairy tale from which this movie draws its inspiration from, with "Ren Yu" being mermaid (in this context). Like the Little Mermaid, Dodo (Hsu) looks normal, except that she cannot use her legs. A miraculous operation allowed her to walk again, and slowly she develops an obsession with shoes. Loads of them.
Girls would probably squeal at the variety of shoes on display in the movie, and I tell you it's a really wide range. Dodo felt that shoes are her first love, and wondered if shoes are indeed her happiness in life. Being weaned on fairy tales from young, it seemed that shoes are perfectly capable of providing her that happily ever after ending, until she meets Smiley, the dentist (Lai).
The movie becomes one of those saccharine sweet moments where boy woos girl, boy marries girl, then what? Perhaps it has a deeper message in its arty-farty feel, but somehow that feeling did not come to me. Give me conflicts, which the movie does, but sidesteps it somewhat. We see how much one treasures something when one has it, and how one emotional spirals downwards when one loses it. I must say I didn't expect it to turn in that direction though, before resuming itself in the theme of hope.
What didn't work for me was the usage of a narrator - Andy Lau. Sorry Andy, your narration's a bit difficult to follow, and I somewhat dislike movies with narration that explains the story - we can see the visuals you know? Also, the strangely huge English and Chinese subtitles were so badly done - not aesthetically pleasing, and full of typos. Someone never did their homework? While the visuals were stunning (it did win a Golden Horse ward for Best Art Direction in 2005), I felt the special effects quite cheesy, and the plot being a little weak. While it showed promise in its slow start, the second half was a torture to sit through, where it tried to develop the characters in too short a time left. This movie will probably appeal to hard core fans of Vivian Hsu, who probably haven't seen their idol on celluloid in a long time.
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