Thursday, September 4, 2008

Just One Look review

Between selling sugarcane and watching movies every week, Fan and Ming, two youths of a small Hong Kong island, fall for a drummer girl at a festival. Meanwhile, Fan also dealing with issues of his own past, begins to take notice of a mysterious girl clad in white, and makes an effort to win her affection.

The Good?
This is an odd and unexpected film in the Hong Kong film industry. Riley Yip sucks the viewer into a very particular nostalgic period to make his own American Graffiti or Dazed and Confused. Yip lets us drift along, building a day in the life mentality capturing Fan's group of friends occupy themselves with films, elaborate rat deaths and the occasional gang war with silly little fights.

The film is built on strong, situational character moments. Genres are seamlessly blended as the story moves from comedy and romance to bits of action, revenge and drama. Once in a while, the film feels like it is stretching itself thin, but the audience is living life and coming of age with these characters, so it feels very natural as well.

The cast does a fine job making their characters the most likable and engrossing elements of the film. Charlene Choi and Wong You Nam are the most naturally convincing of the kids, with light, breezy scenes of cute teen love. Gillian Chung and Shawn Yue are stuck with conveying the deeper, more substantial relationship. It doesn't fit as well, but they do the best they can.

Anthony Wong steals the show as the antagonist with a flawless performance ending the film with more depth than anyone else in the cast. He can anger you to the edge and win your heart over in the blink of an eye.

The Bad?
Gillian Chung and Shawn Yue's relationship gets too serious and melodramatic and feels out of place. The actors struggle to find a healthy medium for it within the story, partly because of a script that gives them very little to build the romance on.


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