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In Case of Love
In Case of Love

Haden Kuo and Tony Yang prepare In Case of Love.
Chinese: 街角的小王子
Year: 2010
Director: Gavin Lin  

Tony Yang, Haden Kuo, Jaline Yeh, Ryan Lin, Yang Zishan, Zaizai Lin, Darren Wang Da-Lu, Tang Zhi-Wei, Robin Lee Yun-Chan

The Skinny: Pleasant and photogenic, In Case of Love may seem good due to its superficial conceits (actors, atmosphere, kittens), but the whole thing is so thin and unconvincingly assembled that it never truly affects. Okay for Taiwan youth romance aficionados, but not really recommended for everyone else.
by Kozo:
Kittens rule in In Case of Love, an attractive and pleasant youth romance from director Gavin Lin. Tony Yang (Formula 17, Blood Brothers) stars as James, a hunky college student and musician who plucks his electric guitar while staring into the distance in a sensitive yet manly fashion. He catches the eye of pretty, reserved classical music fan Claire (Haden Kuo of Keeping Watch and numerous Rejoice shampoo commercials), who fixes her anime heroine-sized eyes on him for a reason besides his total hotness. You see, she thinks that he may be a friend from her childhood that she lost touch with, and now that they've found each other in college, she hopes to rekindle their prepubescent love. James is quietly drawn to Claire too, but something holds him back.

That something: James may not be Claire’s childhood friend. Also, there are numerous other people hanging around who threaten to make the potential couple into a complex geometric shape of love. James' bandmate, lead singer and 7-11 employee Jeremy (Ryan Lin), is smitten with Claire's roomie Elaine (Yang Zi-Shan of Close to You). However, Elaine resists Jeremy, and her reticence may have less to do with Jeremy's grinning advances than her hidden admiration for Claire. Meanwhile, James has a regular gal pal in the lively Ashley (Jaline Yeh), but she looks to be rebounding soon thanks to Claire's sudden entrance. Factor in a band contest, some key flashbacks and a lost kitten and you pretty much see where this is going. Picturesque, cute and hopefully heartfelt youth romance is your destination. But is the journey worth it?

Honestly speaking? Not really. While In Case of Love has a lovely suburban location (What suburban location in a Taiwan film isn’t lovely?) and the cast is certainly photogenic, what the film accomplishes can probably be written on the back of a Starbucks napkin. Gavin Lin sets up his situations with sidelong glances, warm and relaxing interactions, and a couple of portentous moments that signal soap opera secrets. Those hidden connections are eventually revealed, but their effect on the audience is less than the filmmakers probably want. In Case of Love takes such care in dispensing its backstory that by the time it comes out, it simply isn't worth the build up. The lead characters aren’t really given enough personality or life to make their loaded backstories compelling. The supporting characters compensate somewhat thanks to their attitude or energy, but not much really occurs with them. Growth is indicated, but rarely seen or even felt.

The film does reach an end, but it leaves many plot threads hanging in its wake. Sure, life frequently has many loose ends, with nagging uncertainty only resolved over time. However, when a film has such a drawn-out backstory, the audience is not wrong to expect just a little more closure. Add to that the film’s cloying moments – cats playing, guys crying, cats lost in the rain, guys crying while holding lost cats in the rain – and you have a movie that’s so enamored of its own touching images that it ceases to convince. Ultimately, In Case of Love does very little, riding its pleasant, languid feel to maximum effect while ignoring things like actual story progression. The film also wastes Tony Yang, who’s far more charismatic than the wounded brooder he portrays onscreen. He and Haden Kuo make a fine-looking couple, but the poster handily accomplishes that pairing without using up ninety minutes of your time. The saving grace of In Case of Love? The kitten, naturally, who’s so adorable that it's nearly worth the price of admission. Nearly. (Kozo, reviewed at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, 2010)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Deltamac (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 6.1 / DTS 6.1

Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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image credit: Hong Kong Asian Film Festival Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen