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Let's Get Married

Little Big Master

From left to right:Wang Zijian, Ryan Zheng, Li Chen, Jiang Wu, Gao Yuanyuan, Ivy Chen, Haden Kuo, Liu Tao.

Chinese: 咱們結婚吧  
Year: 2015
Director: Liu Jiang
Producer: Liu Jiang, Chi Yu-Feng, Wang Wei, Li Rui-Gang, Bao Shihong
Writer: Liu Jiang, Wang Hongwei, Wang Yu, Xu Nan

Gao Yuanyuan, Jiang Wu, Liu Tao, Wang Zijian, Haden Kuo, Li Chen, Ivy Chen Yi-Han, Ryan Zheng Kai, Monica Mok, Ming Dao

The Skinny:

While it won’t have you dancing down the street like there’s a cloud on your feet, Let’s Get Married is a pleasant diversion if you’re in the mood for love.

  Review by
Sanney Leung:

Hong Kongers and mainlanders have their differences but maybe they have more in common than they think. In late 2013, Mainland TV showrunner Liu Jiang found himself with a hit TV series on his hands. We Get Married (a.k.a. Marry Me) starred Gao Yuanyuan as a sheng nu (leftover lady) focused on her career as a hotel manager. Through a blind date, she meets a bachelor with a cynical view of marriage because he handles divorce cases all day at the Civil Affairs Bureau. The drama’s look at love and marriage through the eyes of a sheng nu and a jaded bachelor resonated with viewers, and its popularity prompted Liu to make a movie exploring similar themes called Let’s Get Married (Note: The TV show and the movie share the same Chinese title). Hmmmm...a popular TV series turned into a film released during a holiday period. Sound familiar, fans of Triumph in the Skies?

Unlike his Hong Kong counterparts, Liu Jiang wisely avoided frustrating and confusing his audience by largely divorcing the TV drama from the film. Besides Liu, the only things We Get Married and Let’s Get Married share are the same Chinese title and leading lady Gao Yuanyuan – everything else is completely different. Let’s Get Married is an anthology of four stories each with their own respective romantic complications. Bridal store manager Wenwen (Gao Yuanyuan) is devastated when the fiancée (Monica Mok) of her ex-boyfriend (Ming Dao) turns up at her store as a customer. Wedding dress designer Old Chen (Jiang Wu, not to be confused with his brother Jiang Wen) has carried a torch for Wenwen for years. Will he seize this opportunity to finally declare his love?

Meanwhile: When her fiancé chooses to work a gig over accompanying her on a long-planned trip to Italy, violinist Wen Yi (Haden Kuo) goes by herself and ends up developing feelings for her Chinese-Italian tour guide Marco (Li Chen from Saving General Yang). Will she find the courage to abandon a good but not great relationship for what could be a relationship with “The One”? Airport worker Xiaolei (Ivy Chen) and her pilot boyfriend Ling Xiao (Ryan Zheng) have been together for three years. Tired of waiting for a commitment, Xiaolei tells Ling Xiao that it’s time to “fish or cut bait”. Finally, hotel administrator Haixin (Liu Tao) is offered a lucrative job at a luxury hotel overseas. The problem: She’s pregnant and the offer is contingent on her making a three-year commitment to focus on the job and not have children. Will Haixin start a family with her oafish hotel chef husband Dapeng (Wang Zijian) or will she have an abortion and head overseas?

The couples are put through their paces but any suspense is lost during the third act (which takes place on the night of the Double Seventh Festival a.k.a. Chinese Valentine’s Day), and it becomes apparent that the couples will title-drop “let’s get married” at some point. Of the plotlines, the Haixin-Dapeng thread is the most satisfying as it’s the most developed and features the movie’s most fully-formed characters. Liu Tao delivers a captivating performance as a modern professional torn between her career and love while comedian Wang Zijian brings the laughs as her buffoonish but loving husband. Although it’s the headliner, the Wenwen-Old Chen plot isn’t rendered as well as the Haixin-Dapeng story. Instead, it relies on the charisma of Gao Yuanyuan and the warm and gentle screen presence of Jiang Wu to make it enjoyable and pull it through some of the gaps in the plot.

The remaining two stories are also mixed bags. While an interesting situation, the Xiaolei-Ling Xiao story suffers from a lack of character development. Xiaolei and Ling Xiao do awful things to each other and, despite yeoman-like effort from both Ivy Chen and Ryan Zheng, it’s hard to empathize with either one because their personalities and motivations aren’t fleshed out. The Wen Yi-Marco plot is given the fewest minutes and is the least developed of the four stories. To overcome the huge chasms in plot development, the film counts on winning performances from Haden Kuo and Li Chen and the viewer’s familiarity with the romantic comedy genre and tropes like “meet cute” and “antagonists become lovers”. Liu Jiang tells the Wen Yi-Marco story in short-hand by setting up familiar scenes and situations and allowing the viewer to fill-in the details for themselves.

Despite high-minded talk from Liu Jiang, who said in a China Daily interview that he hoped the movie would spark “genuine discussion among viewers” by giving “greater focus to social issues surrounding marriage”, Let’s Get Married is a cash-grab – an attempt to squeeze out a few more yuan from an established brand. A film with a running time of 127 minutes just isn’t enough to genuinely explore the social issues surrounding marriage presented by the four stories. Ironically, television with its ability to accommodate long-form storytelling would have been the proper venue – especially for the questions about love and commitment raised by the Xiaolei-Ling Xiao plotline, and the issues on balancing love and career raised by the Haixin-Dapeng story. This isn’t to say Let’s Get Married is a completely cynical exercise. On the contrary, full faith and effort is given to deliver an enjoyable experience. With its shots of beautiful urban landscapes and stunning Italian vistas, the film looks great. None of the actors mail in their performances and each of the stories, despite their shortcomings, have their charms. Let’s Get Married is very much like a successful long-term relationship: It isn’t a fiery, passionate love headed towards an inevitable flame-out. Rather, it’s pleasant, warm, familiar and comforting – strong enough at its core to overcome some rough patches. Not a bad way to spend 127 minutes. (Sanney Leung, 6/2015)

  Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen