I’ve often had a conflict when reviewing a film about whether I should write from an objective or subjective point of view. Of course, I quickly realise that an objective review is too dry and impersonal for my tastes (besides, I really don’t know enough BS to fill out an objective review), so instead, it becomes a conflict of reviewing a film for it’s own merits or as a comparison to better (or worse, as the case may be) films out there.
I raise this because Love for All Seasons, apart from being a HK New Years film (a phenomena I was quite unaware of until recently), is in essence a Romantic Comedy – a genre I normally find formulaic and overly sentimental; basically one I normally find a distaste for (now whether this is a justifiable prejudice, I’m sure I’ll meditate upon the next time I find myself reviewing a Romcom). Despite this, I really can’t say I didn’t enjoy Love for All Seasons – despite it being formualic and overly sentimental.
(And while I am on a roll about prejudices, I will openly admit right now I seem to have developed a taste for Sammi Cheng films. I don’t understand it personally and I freely admit is a problem but be assured I am seeking help; I am currently in a therapy group with similarly afflicted people, most with a Sandra Bullock affectation – and yes I’m sure we’ll be the first ones against the wall when the revolution comes.)
But back to the review. It was the opportunities to explore the idiosyncrasies of many a modern relationship presented by a strong character innocent of the subject and a technical master of is craft is what won me over to Love. The ironic and clinical nature love and relationships were explored just warmed me to the film and reminded me ‘what fools these mortals be’. Tiger’s entire Prince Charming act was laughable yet his attitude and approach was so apt that it was scary that I actually knew people who were that superficial. Similarly, I have seen intelligent people swoon to such obvious charms akin to May’s reaction that it’s really little wonder I am such a cynic.
But the paradox of the entire relationship was what held the most resonance with me. May’s selfless desire for heartache was what she originally came to Hong Kong for and what would seem the most noble influence for her to keep returning to it whenever Tiger took it to the next level or hurt. However, I cannot help but think this was as much smoke and mirrors to hide her own selfish desires. The fact that (well I don’t think I’d be spoiling it too much for people – it is a romantic comedy) it becomes a source of joy and strength for her is just another touching aspect to the film I thank the screenwriter and director for. Add to that the symmetry of two technicians finding the art of their crafts and Love just becomes a film that is too hard to dismiss out of hand.
The performances overall are quite cool but then considering the nature of the movie, none of their dramatic talents are pushed. Sammi plays the country innocent quite well and emotes during the quieter moments as much as she usually does. Louis Koo is somewhat over the top as Tiger but not enough to make it distracting. A very convincing bastard. Other notables are Tiger’s long suffering henchmen who alternate as the straight man and the comic relief as the situation calls. The kung fu and wirework is often exaggerated which does drill home the fact it isn’t a kung fu film. But then it doesn’t have to be.
After all Love for All Seasons is an enjoyable film in its own right and another very cool film to join the ranks of some pretty decent films that seem to come out for Chinese New Year. Yes it is predictable. Yes it is overly sentimental. Still does not mean you cannot enjoy the film and put you in the right mood for the new year.