LOVER’S DISCOURSE (2010)
Running Time: 118 mins. Rating: 3 Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Director: ‘Derek’ Kwok Cheung Tsang & ‘Jimmy’ Chi-Man Wan
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese w/English subtitles
Distributor: EDKO Film
Cast: Eason Chan, Kar Yan Lam, Mavis Fan, Jacky Heung, Kay Tse, William Chan Wai-Ting, Eddie Peng
Reviewed at Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Toronto’s Reel Asian International Film Festival is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. Is there any better way to open the gala than with some throwback love songs and a heartfelt romantic film? It’s my first year visiting this festival and the last time I saw any Asian film with subtitles was Wong Kar Wai’s IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE. Conveniently for me, LOVER’S DISCOURSE isn’t too far from the tree.
Can you say Asian Gossip Girl? This film is all about the torturous, misunderstood, furious love we’ve all encountered at some point in our lives that causes us to make some delirious decisions. Directors Derek Kwok Cheung Tsang and Jimmy Wen take you through four love stories that get a little too close for comfort when you start to realize how closely knit they all become. Four devastating love stories will leave you feeling like you just went on a romance binge — you’ll be set till Valentine’s Day.
The first love story is between two former lovers, Eason Chan and our own Canadian actress Karena Lam. These two have the most magical chemistry on screen together and it really threw me off-guard when the movie suddenly flipped a page and I didn’t get to see their relationship pan out until the very end. But it’s totally worth the wait if you’re a fan of scandalous drama (who isn’t?).
My favorite story is the second one with the starry-eyed laundromat worker Gi (Kay Tse) who is fantastically in love with her customer Mr. Lai (Eddie Peng) and imagines a series of love scenes charting their relationship from their first meeting to their separation. This 14-year-old teenager type of love comically reveals how we can get so wrapped up in our own world that it doesn’t even matter who we attach our affection to — whether it human or not.
Before we get to the good stuff, we go back 12 years into the past to watch a boy’s silly fascination with his best friend’s mother, Kit Chan. His obsession allows him to discover that her husband is cheating on her and on a desperate attempt to show her that there are better men out there he ends up losing his best friend. What are you willing to sacrifice in the name of love?
Finally, we can’t get away from a mysterious IM-chat between Jacky Heung and Mavis Fan as they collaborate to spy on their cheating spouses. “How about I follow your boyfriend and you follow my girlfriend?” This double-agent idea doesn’t occur very often and I think it’s a little far-fetched to really connect with. Or, maybe it’s just an Asian thing to randomly want to join forces when you’re both morally scorned through a painful realization that your spouse is being unfaithful. Whatever it is, I’m waiting for it to be over, for the truth to come out, and for the movie to end.
Of course there are some very Asian cultural elements, like old-school kung fu movies, pictures of food, booking hotel rooms by the hour and absolutely no sexual tension whatsoever because that would be incredibly inappropriate for a movie surrounded on the topic of love. This allows you to focus solely on the irony among these misguided, romantic fools and you get a taste of the variety of languages of love. Now the question is, are you the tortured lover fixated on the past or are you strong enough to move on?
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