When I first heard about this movie and read the synopsis, I thought it would be one of the regular run of the mill romantic comedy productions that Hong Kong churns out every now and then. And I am glad that I'm proven wrong, that this movie had its moments which totally charmed me, not so much because of the eye candy cast, but the story. I'm sold when the story somehow touches me in ways I'd rather it not (cutting too close to experiences and personal life), but in doing so, makes me appreciate it a whole lot more. Richard has a knack of inviting / introducing me to movies that surprise me (like My Name Is Fame), and this one is no different.
I'm sure most of us have set up some goals at some point in our lives, be they one of those 3-5-10 year plans. I never did something formal, but in my mind had this sort of rough guide about where I want to be and what I want to do. Naturally doing well in a career of choice, and probably getting settled down some time in the future did make its way to those plans (though scratch that settling down bit for now, and snuff that laughter!) One thing's for sure, this movie blog was an accident of sorts, an indirect result of one of those plans gone awry, not that I'm complaining, but it goes to show that life can be unpredictable, that you might find some other goals or calling that appeal to you that you just want to jump along head on.
And while Miriam Yeung's Mui holding out for that Mr Perfect, and not knowing that Mr Perfect for you is right under your nose probably seemed typical for a movie like this, what I thought had given her character an added dimension, was her certainty in proclaiming that she'll never want to begin a relationship with someone in the same business as her, and that means totally writing off Fishy (Eason Chan), a fellow fishmonger from the Fortune Market they both work in. She's holding onto a dream that one day she'll be able to break free of her bonds of debt, and start a totally new life out there in the world sans smelly fishy odours, and probably if her partner was someone from this side of the world, then it'll constantly remind her of a life she wants to forget. Or, she might be looking down at the profession she's in, stereotyping her once business adversary as amongst the lower class of society.
Which makes one reconsider what it takes for one to woo someone else who has written you off from the onset. Do you persevere in the hopes of getting that elusive dream fulfilled, or do you decide that enough's enough and abandon all hope? On the flip side, you'll also start to ponder if you should be holding out for that perfect someone, or actually to make something perfect with someone who just might not meet your criteria. Had some of these thought swirling while sitting through the movie, despite its outright veneer of what may be deemed as fluff.
In the most superficial manner, it is a romantic comedy where Mui and Fishy play off each other, the usual opposite attracts kind of story, where the lady thinks lowly of the frog, but the frog discovers some inner beauty in the lady, especially with her industry, and secretly assists her along obstacles in life. Despite its formula and the various reasons it touched me as mentioned, I can't mention enough of identifiable moments for anyone who had been in, and out of relationships. Being a comedy, while you might be able to see some of the jokes coming from a mile away, there are some which are genuinely funny and will catch you off guard, especially a certain scene which you have to keep your ears peeled, when the characters launch into a discussion relating analogies between sex, relationship and fishing. I wish I had seen this in Cantonese though.
Another thing I enjoyed is how the story takes place over a period of 10 years, starting from the handover of Hong Kong back to China, and having the story unfold in front of a backdrop of changing social and economic times, highlighting certain pertinent events in the course of history, like the SARS outbreak, MLM fads, scams like fake marriages and the likes. However, the presentation at times seem a bit choppy with editing failing to keep pace with the movie, and too many characters introduced (some of whom are lovable in their own right though, especially the Fortune Market stallholders and patrons) made them seem rather one dimensional, and at times, unnecessary.
But overall, I view this as one of the sleeper hits that might just surprise me when I compile my top ten for the year, for the reasons that it made me think, having a good ensemble cast with great chemistry between the leads (I thought Stanley Fun Shui Fan made an interesting appearance as the dad), and best of all, being able to identify with them, and the relationship issues they face. Hey, I'm entering my 30s too!