HK's classics, this romantic drama set in New York
features a terrific pairing between Chow Yun-Fat and
Cherie Chung. She's Jenny, a college student who travels
from Hong Kong to New York to reunite with boyfriend
Danny Chan. However, things aren't what she expects,
because Danny's been playing the field in her absence.
Luckily, Jenny has her distant cousin (Chow Yun-Fat)
to help her, but the two are decidedly different souls.
He immediately takes a shine to her, but she's slow
on the uptake. And besides, how can two incredibly
mismatched people ever be together?
Plot and story are not
the emphasis of Mabel Cheung's film. Though there's
the obligatory set-up, the path the film follows rests
entirely upon the development and growth of its principal
characters. Chow Yun-Fat plays your typical Chinatown
HK immigrant, who gambles and talks bigger than he
delivers. When he finds Jenny, he decides he wants
to become a better person to earn her affections.
His effort is understandable, as Jenny is portrayed
by Cherie Chung, who turns in a subtle, charming performance.
Jenny must grow as well, though her goals are different
from her cousin's. She simply would like to become
a woman, and that journey may or may not mean romance
The obstacles for the would-be
lovers are largely free of your standard movie-like
plot devices. As such, the relationship develops naturally
and not through some forced set of circumstances.
In contrast to the verbalized epiphanies and soap-opera
plotting of most romances, the tone here is incredibly
serene, and even deceptively languid. Awkward silences,
silent pining and misdirected intentions are the language
that Mabel Cheung and scriptwriter Alex Law use, and
in the hands of such actors as Chow Yun-Fat and Cherie
Chung, the results are incredibly engaging. Though
the two are major stars, the film doesn't make them
star-crossed. Their chemistry feels pleasing and real,
and not a byproduct of their status as the two prettiest
Ultimately, the two
characters find some resolution to their issues, and
the results are neither unexpected nor wholly predictable.
The results simply feel natural, and the quiet humanity
with which the characters are portrayed makes them
extremely sympathetic. Mabel Cheung's suitably understated
direction brings the perfect touch to the proceedings,
and Alex Law's script is remarkably sensitive. Nothing
truly earth-shattering occurs here, and the love that
grows isn't a world-beating, destiny-fulfilling match
made in heaven. However, thanks to likable, identifiable
characters and perfect lead performances, An Autumn's
Tale is a Hong Kong romance that's nearly matchless.