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Dot 2 Dot

Dot 2 Dot

Meng Ting-Yi and Moses Chan connect the dots in Dot 2 Dot.

Chinese: 點對點
Year: 2014  
Director: Amos Why
Producer: Amos Why, Heidi Ng, Teresa Kwong
Writer: Amos Why
Cast: Moses Chan Ho, Meng Ting-Yi, Lam Chi-Chung, David Siu, Candy Cheung, Siu Yam-Yam, Crystal Cheung, Patrick Wong, Kit Mung, Adam Wong Sau-Ping, Jessey Tsang
The Skinny: A detailed look at Hong Kong’s urban spaces and continuing growth, Dot 2 Dot is otherwise an unremarkable romantic drama about two people who get together under totally unrealistic circumstances. A must-see for local culture geeks and a likely skip for those mainly interested in seeing pretty people hook up.
by Kozo:

This locally-conscious romantic drama has the local stuff down. Director-writer Amos Why brings us Dot 2 Dot, the story of two people whose interest in Hong Kong’s fast-disappearing urban spaces leads them to an unlikely union. Wong Suet-Ching (Moses Chan) has just returned to Hong Kong where he works in a design firm and wanders the city, recalling his old memories and leaving connect-the-dot puzzles in key locations from his past. His potential partner is Cao Xiaoxue (Meng Ting-Yi), a teacher and mainland immigrant whose fascination with Hong Kong is far greater than her interest in a normal social life. While exploring the same locales as Ching, she discovers his puzzles and begins solving them, much to his surprise. An anonymous game begins between the two that’s steeped in Hong Kong’s rich local history as much as good, old-fashioned boy meets girl romance.

Scratch that. Dot 2 Dot is much, much more interested in its appreciation of local history and geography than in its status as a romantic film. In truth, the romance is awkward and makes little sense. Ching and Xiaoxue are presented as kindred spirits who connect by, uh, connecting the dots, but there are simply too many coincidences and uncertainties to make the love story work. Unlike Sleepless in Seattle, where the characters became aware of each other, or even became attracted via face-to-face encounters, these characters have no idea who their game-playing opposite is. Dot 2 Dot offers a minor attempt at development by making Ching one of Xiaoyue’s Mandarin class students, but without the knowledge from one side that that’s the person they’re playing connect the dots with – well, the whole thing is a little too farfetched and unbelievable.

Also, because the romance is so unconvincing, the film ends up lacking narrative purpose. Love is really the last thing on the minds of the characters, so there’s little tension in their relationship status. Some of Ching’s friends comment on his need to get married, and some of Xiaoyue’s colleagues seem concerned about her social life, but those concerns don’t create any urgency for the characters or the audience. Long missing from the big screen, Moses Chan brings earnest integrity to Ching, and Meng Ting-Yi is a minor discovery as Xiaoyue, a character who could have been constructed via pixie dream girl dust but instead appears refreshingly mature. The actors are likable enough that their minor meet-ups do qualify as pleasant, though not in a manner that makes the film that revealing or commercially appealing. Emotionally, Dot 2 Dot is only lukewarm.

On a local level, however, Dot 2 Dot succeeds. The immersion in local history and geography is very detailed, and features strong insight into events and locations, from the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) stations visited by Ching and Xiaoyue (the dot-to-dot puzzles are invariably left at MTR locations), to the numerous marker stones (border markers left by the British) that Xiaoyue discovers on her Hong Kong adventures. The rich detail could even spur locals to attempt their own sightseeing tour, or perhaps compel visiting tourists to take their interest in Hong Kong’s urban history to a new level – that is, if they ever had any to begin with. Dot 2 Dot primarily works on an abstract level, reveling in memory, nostalgia and history while largely missing on the characters and situations. The audience for this type of film is decidedly small, but that’s okay. Dot 2 Dot is a minor gem for this particular demographic. (Kozo, 4/2014)


image credit: Golden Scene Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen