It took about 30 minutes before the opening credits rolled, and debunked everything you have just witnessed on screen. By then you're already aware that this is serious arthouse, and perhaps one of the worst techniques of telling the audience that the line between screen reality and fantasy has been blurred. It's akin to a character waking up from sleep, and declaring that what had transpired, was all a bad dream.
And I wish Love Story was a bad dream. It's "atas" and arty-farty, filled with characters that you don't care about, not that you don't want to, but because they're so fake, you just cannot. Take the protagonist Jiang Qin. He is a writer who gets into relationships, just to milk them and write about his experiences with the ladies. His relationships with the different girls in reel life becomes translated into his books, with each given a horrific literary end when the relationship comes to a crashing halt. He's the cad you love to hate, using cliche lines that seemed like a poor copycat cousin straight out of the protagonists of Wong Kar Wai movies.
I hated the ninja-cladded female usher who whispers nonsense continuously. I felt like bitch-slapping her to shut the hell up. But no, she's supposedly spouting lines from a banned book, or directions to a persons heart. I don't care. I just want her to shut up. Pseudo-intelligence don't turn me on.
I hated Evelyn Tan's mousy librarian role. It's too short, too fake, and it's a typical flower vase role, if she can still be considered a flower vase that is. Don't get me started on Ericia Lee's dumb but horny police constable role too. Falling in love with Jiang Qin, and therefore sleeping with the enemy, she makes love with her clothes on. Weird fetish, which probably served the purpose of having someone hot appear in uniform.
Everything and every character felt so contrived, you just wanna scream your head off. It's trying to be intelligent, trying to be a lot more hip and cool, with a blinking marquee touting "hey, I'm a mandarin art film", NOT! I thought it was a complete waste of time. Try reading into it for subtexts? Afraid not, and don't bother too. And yes, I barf at the synopsis' final line that this movie "will touch everyone with its insightful charm". "Everyone" is a dangerous word to use. Got charm meh?
But were there redeeming points? Sure. I liked Amanda Ling's portrayal of the punk rock chick, as well as Benjamin Heng's multi-character roles in this movie. It's all weird, but they somewhat appealed to me, especially their weak laughable parts as terrorists, trying to torture the hell out of and punishing the protagonist with cheap Saw/Hostel inspired substitutes.
The storyline has it zipping seamlessly between fantasy and screen reality, perhaps thinking that it's cool to do so. Perhaps I'm not as intelligent to decipher what it all wanted to mean, what with finding of true love, and being in love with the idea of love itself, etcetera. When the opening credits come on, you just don't care anymore. I shudder at the thought that money was thrown at this movie to begin with.
As part of the FOCUS: First Cuts project, and having watched 2 in the series already, I was surprised that Andy Lau didn't make a more direct contribution to the film, as compared to The Shoe Fairy (the Narrator) and the cameo appearance in I'll Call You.
Director Kelvin Tong was in attendance during the screening, and shared with us some of his thoughts in making the film, such as it being shot in less than 2 weeks, and of his expectations that given it's an art house film, he is expecting a poorer audience response to this as compared to his previous outing in the more commercially appealing The Maid. He also revealed that reviews don't really bother him too much, and with this shot in HD, he basically has the ability to shoot what he wanted.
However, during the Q&A Session, some spokesperson from GV had the audacity to shamelessly plug the film for its commercial release sometime early May. Aiyoh, leave the Q&A alone, don't hijack it for your own personal/professional interest. Not as if those who have watched it, will want to watch it again, and I don't think many will promote this movie in positive light via word of mouth too.