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Mr. and Mrs. Single
Mr. and Mrs. Single

Eason Chan and Bai Bing are Mr. and Mrs. Single.
Chinese: 隱婚男女
Year: 2011
Director: Patrick Kong
Writer: Ru Xiao-Guo, Ha Zhi-Chao

Eason Chan Yik-Shun, Rene Liu, Bai Bing, Lin Yi-Lun, Monica Mok, Qin Lan, Gao Jie, Chen Hao, Harlem Yu

The Skinny: Patrick Kong's 10th film, an adaptation of a stageplay, is also his most competent work yet, thanks to polished production values, amusing situations and some solid performances. However, the film fails to do anything substantial in its transition from stage to screen. Co-starring the Inner Mongolia's Yili Milk Company and Lacoste.
Kevin Ma:
Time flies. Mr. and Mrs. Single already marks writer-director Patrick Kong's 10th film as director. The office comedy also marks at least two other special occasions for Hong Kong youths’ favorite romcom auteur: it's Kong’s first film made for Mainland China, and it's his first film without a scriptwriter credit (though Kong did uncredited work on the screenplay). The good news is that Mr. and Mrs. Single features better production values, two solid lead actors and zero of Kong's annoying attempts at narrative trickery. The bad news is that Mr. and Mrs. Single is still only a mildly competent film that will likely get lost among the new wave of Chinese commercial urban romances.

Like Go Lala Go, Mr. and Mrs. Single has all the makings of a sharp commentary on Chinese office politics and contemporary urban life in China. The film's central concept involves its protagonist Mike (Eason Chan) faking a marriage to keep a high-paying job as the executive assistant of perfume company CEO Mandy (Rene Liu). In order to stay on call 24 hours a day for Mandy (who probably learned her management techniques from The Devil Wears Prada), Mike must be single and remain single. However, the problem is that Mike is married, and his wife Jenny (Bai Bing) even works in the same building.

Those expecting the film to focus on Mike and Jenny’s attempts to avoid being discovered by Mandy can put those expectations to rest now. In the transition from stage to film, scriptwriters Ru Xiao-Guo and Ha Zhi-Chao (the latter is also the writer of the original play) focus instead on superficial character development and romantic entanglement. In the original stage play, Jenny is the one who transfers into Mike's company, and the couple's motivation to remain in the same workplace is to afford a home of their own, with Mandy playing only a supporting role. The film instead focuses on Mike's growth in the perfume company, with his advancement as motivation for the deception. Kong, obviously not an expert at the psyche of Mainland Chinese white collar workers, stays within his comfort zone of trust issues and romantic traumas, dulling any edge that might have been present in the source material.

Nevertheless, Kong in his comfort zone is not necessarily a bad thing here. Instead of putting his focus on the script, Kong actually has to learn to become a director on Mr. and Mrs. Single, and the result is Kong's most visually appealing film thus far. Aside from the blatant product placements (What's with all that Inner Mongolian milk in that hotel mini-bar?), Kong employs the right amount of visual trickery without being distracting. What Kong fails to do is elevate the script into an engaging film. Despite solid performances from Rene Liu and Eason Chan (both speaking Mandarin in their own voices), the burgeoning romance between Mandy and Mike distracts from the film’s central concept. Meanwhile, scenes involving Mike and Jenny’s marriage are more in line with a typical Kong romance, featuring a host of tired details like lies, misunderstandings and annoying friends.

Ultimately, Mr. and Mrs. Single is just another office-set romantic comedy with broad stereotypes (Mike's effeminate co-worker being one of them), mildly amusing situations and sympathetic characters. But focusing on what the film doesn't achieve will lead to negativity, while realizing what Kong manages to pull off here will guarantee a more positive opinion of the film. Perhaps we should just be thankful that Mr. and Mrs. Single is mostly devoid of bad Kong trademarks like annoying supporting performances, unnecessary flashbacks and the pessimistic twist ending that shows that the film's characters are indeed terrible people. There are plenty of flaws in Mr. and Mrs. Single that keep it from being a good film, but we'll keep the glass half full here. (Kevin Ma, 2011)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Vicol Entertainment Ltd. (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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