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All About Love
 All About Love

Vivian Chow and Sandra Ng contemplate love.
Chinese: 得閒炒飯
Year: 2010
Director: Ann Hui On-Wah
Writer: Yang Yee-Shan
Cast: Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Vivian Chow Wai-Man, Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai, William Chan Wai-Ting, Joey Man Yi-Man, Jo Koo, Eman Lam Yi-Man, Fan Yik-Man, Conroy Chan Chi-Chung, Simon Yam Tat-Wah, Queenie Chu, Abe Kwong Man-Wai, Petrina Fung Bo-Bo, Tina Lau Tin-Lau
  The Skinny: The characters are fun and Ann Hui's direction is lively, but the focus on social and political issues becomes overwhelming and a bit false. Better in intention than execution, All About Love still has its good points. You just have to look harder for them.
 
Review
by Kozo:

All About Love is directed by Ann Hui, but it may be more obvious that it was written by Yeeshan Yang. The writer of the Herman Yau films Whispers and Moans and True Women for Sale, Yang pens scripts that are topical and intelligent, but also didactic and artificial. Sometimes her characters come off as mouthpieces rather than individuals, with social or political agendas being pushed in favor of character development or storytelling. As representations of Hong Kong, Yang's scripts absolutely deserve notice, but calling them true narrative works would be incorrect. They're cultural and political documents rather than stories – which worked for both Whispers and True Women, since those were ensemble slice-of-life affairs that favored a wide rather than an individual focus.

All About Love also has its share of ensemble moments, but it's really more of a two-person dramedy – and ultimately, that's a problem. Sandra Ng plays Macy, a solicitor who chances into old flame Anita (Vivian Chow) at a pregnancy seminar. Both are bisexual and both are pregnant, and we witness during a clever first act how both came to be with child. After meeting, the two immediately rekindle their strong, playful affinity while taking the Mid-Levels escalators up to Macy’s apartment and then walking back down to Anita’s place. Each time they reach a destination, they find an excuse to turn back around, extending their reunion by a precious few more minutes. It’s a fun method of introducing the characters, as each woman reveals pieces of their past during their treks up and down the Mid-Levels. Other than some early didactic portions involving gender politics, All About Love looks to be a fun and lively little character drama.

In the early going there’s plenty of exposition but also plenty of character, due largely to the fine performances from the cast. Sandra Ng is lively and also layered as the fun-loving but guarded Macy, easily compensating for any deficiencies in Vivian Chow's acting. Chow has always been more of a face than an actress, and while she makes a fine partner to Ng, she has a harder time convincing of her character's deeper facets. Ann Hui does her best work when her characters play off one another, and both Eddie Cheung and William Chan are likable and enjoyable as the fathers-to-be. Cheung, in particular, displays a surprising playful edge despite never seeming to be the wife-beater his character is supposed to be. Chan is remarkably self-effacing as a young ladies man who’s less experienced than he wishes he was. Little touches, like Ann Hui's use of animation and her Hong Kong locations, add color and depth. There's a feel here not unlike the UFO productions of the mid-nineties, which alternately charmed and annoyed with their glossy takes on upper-middle-class Hong Kong urban life.

Things take a confounding turn, however. Whereas those UFO films were topical or even pandering, they usually settled back towards good, old-fashioned narrative and character. All About Love does the opposite, becoming even more about its issues and agendas than about the people onscreen. Making matters worse, many of the film's issues aren't really illustrated – the characters describe the issues verbally such that the dialogue starts seeming forced and unnatural. People in All About Love don't meet up to exchange pleasantries or keep in touch, they instead get together to talk about their latest hot button issue or explain what’s happening to the main characters in the film. Sandra Ng's major character arc is all but narrated onscreen by Joey Man and Jo Koo (as a pair of lesbian friends), which is awesome for audience understanding. Unfortunately, the actual cinema experience is like watching a filmed book-on-tape.

Ultimately All About Love does attempt a climax, but it hardly settles the film's dangling character development. Thanks to the abundance of discussed social and political issues, the film ultimately loses track of its characters. The small complexities and conflicts abundant in real life or relationships seemingly get ignored in favour of pat endings and lots of people explaining just what the heck they’re thinking or feeling. The wide focus that aided Yeeshan Yang's earlier films is done away with here, and in trying to tie up her characters’ stories, her script becomes irretrievably flawed. As a document of Hong Kong, All About Love still has merits. There's life in the performances, and the topical issues are worthy, such that the film succeeds as a cursory look at a very specific segment of Hong Kong life. Ann Hui helps the material with her generous focus on character but she doesn't lift the script beyond its flaws, which are deep and perhaps insurmountable. There's plenty of value here – educational value, social value, and even entertainment value. But the achievement? Only partial. (Kozo, 2010)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Vicol Entertainment Ltd.
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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