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Love on Credit

Love on Credit

Aloys Chen and Lin Chiling in Love on Credit.

Chinese: 幸福額度  
Year: 2011
Director: Leste Chen
Producer: Joy Zhong, Zhang Yibai
Writer: Dean Wang, Zuo Er, Leste Chen
Cast: Lin Chi-Ling, Aloys Chen, Liao Fan, Tony Yang, Chang Hsiao-Yen, Yu Jian, Yao Yiai, Li Fengxu, Gao Bin, Ma Weijiang
The Skinny: Unlikeable characters and disjointed storytelling drag Love on Credit down, though a surprising performance from Lin Chiling - in dual roles, no less - does plenty to prop it back up. OK for glossy romcom fare but not one to go gaga over.
by Kozo:
Lin Chiling surprises but Love on Credit simply confounds. This glossy romcom from Taiwan director Leste Chen (Eternal Summer) is well-made and great to look at, with gorgeous stars, high-class art direction and dazzling fashions and sets. Chen also goes for visual storytelling, choosing to develop his characters more through action and less through explanatory dialogue. Unfortunately, the story is thin and weakly developed, and it’s ultimately hard to care who ends up with whom. The filmmakers set up two love triangles tied together by twin sister heroines, but the romantic musical chairs become inexplicable if not tiresome. This is a romantic comedy – the audience should desire a specific outcome for the romantic hero or heroine. Otherwise, why are we watching?

The plot: self-centered, materialistic Hong (Lin Chiling) is heartbroken over a stalled romance with her married lover (Ma Weijiang), but she rebounds quickly with Quan (Aloys Chen), a super-rich, super-handsome and super-nice guy with a rare unlimited credit card. Quan falls in love with Hong almost instantly, but she’s cool to the idea even though it’s clear to anyone with a brain that she should accept Quan’s attentions. Meanwhile, Hong’s bookish twin sister Qing (also Lin Chiling) is suffering through a rocky patch with Cheng (Liao Fan), her live-in boyfriend of ten years. Inspired by her sister’s “love is like a credit card” lifestyle, Qing gets a makeover and instantly attracts wealthy if somewhat weird HR officer Shen (Tony Yang). Choices get made, people end up with people, yadda yadda yadda, you know the drill.

The problems here are multiple, but it all comes down to the disjointed script and storytelling. The film offers elliptical scenes rather than a straight narrative, giving the actors and their situations room to breathe. Unfortunately, said scenes don’t entirely jibe, the characters’ decisions ultimately coming off as unbelievable or inexplicable. Chen mounts things attractively but isn’t able to provide a sense of time or development; the way it appears, Quan goes gaga over Hong and asks her to marry him right away. Has it been six months or just six days? Hard to tell, and this is even with a concurrent storyline concerning Cheng nursing a broken leg. His healing process should signal some time passage, but one day his cast is gone and things have progressed incredibly. Has it been a year or only four months? Who the heck can tell?

Making matters worse is that few of the characters are likeable. Quan is obviously the perfect guy (disclosure: Love on Credit is co-produced by Aloys Chen’s company), but he exists as little beyond a “Best Man Ever” archetype. Cheng is genuinely a problem, as he once re-mortgaged his shared flat with Qing without informing her, and yet continues to take Qing for granted (don’t worry, he repents though a speech). Shen is an OCD-suffering stooge who gives up his compulsive need to change tables at restaurants simply because someone asks him to. Beyond that, Shen has no flaws except that he’s totally boring. Hong is the worst; she’s a materialistic, self-centered yuppette who supposedly deserves our sympathy. Only Qing possesses a reasonable character arc, and even then her ping-ponging between suitors feels arbitrary. Romcom lesson #1: if the characters alienate, the movie will too.

The surprise of Love on Credit is Lin Chiling, who manages to make her two characters into distinct individuals. Lin’s voice is a problem – it’s too sweet and gooey to consistently take seriously – but she easily convinces as the high-maintenance Hong and also her down-to-earth sister Qing. There are still some debits; it’s hard to believe that the prim Qing would so easily slip into revealing dresses, plus any attempt at downplaying Lin’s looks is futile (Lin’s “uglification” was more convincing in Welcome to Shamatown). However, Lin shows personality and also comic timing, and would be a fine choice for future headlining romcom roles. Hopefully she’ll be called upon to carry something more substantial and less superficial than Love on Credit. I'd buy a ticket with cash money. (Kozo 2012)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
CN Entertainment Ltd.
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

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