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There's no twinkle in this unlucky star sorry, Ziyi.
It's tough to get a romantic comedy just right. There are so many elements that go into striking that perfect balance. An engaging, sweet story. Chemistry between the leads. Genuine romantic tension. Timing, comic and otherwise. Sometimes, too, it boils down to pure luck: the pieces have been dutifully assembled, but do they fit into the larger jigsaw puzzle? Sadly for My Lucky Star, an unexpected passion project for acclaimed dramatic actress Zhang Ziyi, the stars never quite align in the way they should.
Aspiring comic book artist Sophie (Zhang), who first appeared in 2009′s Sophie's Revenge, dreams her ideal man into her art as she plods along in her dreary job as a travel agent. Her super-ordinary life changes when she wins an all-expenses paid trip to Singapore, where she promptly bumbles her way into a diamond heist. Cluelessly, Sophie also crosses paths with secret agent David (Wang Lee-Hom), who soon discovers that he has no choice but to keep her close when she holds the key to recovering a gemstone that in the wrong hands could easily destroy the world.
There's a way to make even the most predictable and trite of story lines palatable and refreshing. Many a passable Hollywood rom-com has recycled the same-ish plot of girl meets boy, boy is annoyed but ultimately enamoured of girl, so on and so forth. My Lucky Star quite catastrophically fails at resuscitating its weak script. The film limps from scene to scene in search of elusive jokes and hints of romance, most of which don't quite land even when they've been found.
In fact, it's boring and laugh-free enough that audiences will be free to notice the nonsensical plot twists (just exactly who pilots the houseboat when Sophie takes off after David?) and almost pretentious product placement scattered throughout the film (yes, Lenovo, we understand that you have a computer that can be flipped inside-out well done!). Perhaps American director Dennie Gordon didn't understand enough of the language to get the pace or timing of the film quite right though that's no excuse for Sophie's shenanigans to stretch over 113 increasingly tedious minutes.
To be fair, Zhang tries her mighty best to charm as Sophie. Better known for her heartrending turns in weepy dramas, Zhang turns her considerable skills to giggling and swooning on demand, and almost succeeds in a role that's practically written to be annoying. Wang fares less well: a fairly wooden actor when not provided with the right material, he strides manfully through the film as little more than a (very) pretty face.
Zhang reportedly signed on as a producer because she firmly believed in sharing the sweet, silly heart of Sophie and her adventure. It's almost a shame how rarely My Lucky Star actually manages to convey that zany lightness of touch. It was never going to be great art and wasn't intended to be such but it's sad when a purported romantic comedy with lashings of adventure isn't particularly romantic, funny or, well, adventurous.
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