The whole city is burning up during the hottest summer on record. Tempers flare, irrational feelings erupt and the impossible becomes possible. And in every corner of the city, love explodes... Read allThe whole city is burning up during the hottest summer on record. Tempers flare, irrational feelings erupt and the impossible becomes possible. And in every corner of the city, love explodes like fireworks.The whole city is burning up during the hottest summer on record. Tempers flare, irrational feelings erupt and the impossible becomes possible. And in every corner of the city, love explodes like fireworks.
When one mentions a romantic comedy with multiple stories intertwined, the first film that would likely pop to one's mind would be Love, Actually. Well, that film wasn't particularly deep (not that most romantic stories of this kind usually are), but it had an ensemble cast that helped things along. In a sense, Hot Summer Days is its distant cousin, but takes place in the summer instead of winter. With the extreme summer heat also come extreme emotions and flaring tempers. If Love, Actually emphasized warmth amongst a cold, sometimes lonely, landscape, everything in this film is bright, loud, cramped, hot, and crowded.
This film is a quirky, visual marvel of contrasting colors and is full of energy. From the beginning, there's a surreal CG element to emphasize the extremely hot weather, with wobbly buildings in the background literally melting like popsicles at certain points. Another noticeable uses of CG involve a love story between a male fish and a female fish talking inside a restaurant aquarium. They are not of Pixar-quality nor are they realistic, but it works just enough to service the plot. They are overlooking another relationship going on outside their tank between a sushi chef (Daniel Wu) and a pretty critic (Vivian Hsu). These and other moments emphasize the quirky, limitless, and imaginative borders of these stories, while showing both simplicity and complexity of romance. It is nice how they're not afraid to occasionally just throw in the kitchen sink (as long as its plumbing services the story). I found these elements freeing and refreshing. Advertisement
From the beginning, visual elements and scenes come quick and are jumbled together like a collage. Characters are introduced quickly. I really appreciated the diverse color palette of the cinematography. Warm to cold tones are scattered throughout the film. Majority of the scenes are quite urban, with contrasting saturated colors emphasizing the diversity of it all.
Given that the film juggles seven different stories, some of the characters have simpler and more easily recognizable personalities. One of the more detailed of these stories involves a chauffeur, Wah (Jacky Cheung), and Li Yan (Rene Liu), a piano-playing masseuse, who communicate only by text when one receives an accidental text message from another. They become pen pals (through their texts) in a sense, with Wah lying that he's a Ferrari driver and Li Yan claiming to be a concert pianist. The actors do a fine job, personifying their roles with much charm. Some of the small moments with Wah and his daughter are quite poignant.
As are most romantic comedies, one can predict most of the outcome. Thankfully, the film makes that journey palatable and fun. For the most part, the energy is consistent. Even though many of the stories have a certain conventionality that is familiar, there are also many details that are clever and original. Clocking at 93 minutes, very little time is wasted—after all, there are seven stories going at once. The characters are charming and beautiful to look at, the stories have certain innocence, and the general mood is positive, yet bittersweet. Even if familiar, it is a novel and charming piece of work.
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- Apr 1, 2011