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Love Me Not

Love Me Not

Siu Wu and Rebecca Yip in Love Me Not.

Chinese: 不能愛
Year: 2012
Director: Gilitte Leung
Producer: Gilitte Leung
Writer: Gilitte Leung
Cast: Rebecca Yip, Siu Wu, Afa Lee, Kenneth Cheng, Babyjohn Choi
The Skinny: Decent independent film that manages to eschew the pretentiousness of many of its Hong Kong ilk. Second half twist improves the film and introduces better actors in Rebecca Yip and Siu Wu. Not an overtly special film but very much worth a look for those interested in smaller, more realistically-mounted Hong Kong stories.
by Kozo:

Hong Kong independent feature Love Me Not offers a commercial cinema premise but does indie film things with it. Mostly. Gilitte Leung writes and directs this art-toned relationship drama about Aggie (Afa Lee) and Dennis (Kenneth Cheng), gay roommates of opposite sexes who find their platonic relationship morphing into something more. Longtime friends, the two don’t seek romance from one another and are fully invested in their own lives, passing time together and apart with little urgency. Voiceovers from Aggie bring some internal voice to the dynamic, but nothing happens overtly that should bring them together. Director Leung uses layered dialogue, elliptical action and handheld camera to bring the world of these young urbanites to life, and the performances from Lee and Cheng are natural if not accomplished. Love Me Not breaks little new ground at the outset but its set-up is well-mounted and free of the pretension that sometimes mars Hong Kong indie films.

Then the film takes a potentially alarming turn. Midway through, the story cuts to Aggie and Dennis addressing a cinema audience, revealing that what we’ve been watching is a film directed and written by the real Aggie (Rebecca Yip), who based the film-within-a-film on her relationship with her former roommate Dennis (Siu Wu). From there, Love Me Not chronicles the real Aggie’s life and how she wrestles with work while coming to terms with what Dennis means to her. Meanwhile, Dennis sleeps around, enters into a sham marriage, and eventually gets drawn into this relationship conundrum with Aggie. The “real” Aggie and Dennis have lives similar to their “fiction” versions, but the existence of a film-within-a-film gives them cause for navel-gazing. After all, it was fodder for Aggie’s film project so they can discuss the subject without being overtly self-absorbed. Thankfully, the film’s meta turn isn’t self-serving and the situations and dialogue remain largely unpretentious.

Bonus: the acting improves in the “real” segment. Rebecca Yip has surprising screen presence and local musician Siu Wu is more believable than the flashier Kenneth Cheng. There’s a quiet enjoyment to the two’s push-and-pull relationship that takes flight thanks to the film’s beguiling rhythm, stylish direction and solid dialogue. Cinematography is also sharp, and makes excellent use of Hong Kong’s small, cramped spaces. Unfortunately, Love Me Not offers a climax that’s too conventional, with scene-stealing side characters and narrative maneuvering that wouldn’t be uncommon in a glossy commercial film. It’s a bit disappointing, as indie filmmaking can take risks and go places that commercial cinema – burdened by large budgets and mass audience expectations – cannot. Regardless, this is a well-made little film that realistically and engagingly spotlights a usually unseen segment of Hong Kong life. Gilitte Leung shows promise as a new voice in Hong Kong film. (Kozo, reviewed at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, 12/2012)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Deltamac (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
antonese Language Track
Dolby Digital
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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