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PERHAPS LOVE (movie) Edit

CreditsEdit

Screenplay: Oi Wah Lam and Raymond To
Director: Peter Chan
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro: Lin Jian-dong
Xun Zhou: Sun Na
Jacky Cheung: Nie Wen
Jin-hee Ji: Monty
Year Released: 2005

Reviewed by dafaceEdit

I so love this film!

I fell in love with the introductory analogy. Life is like the movies, in which you are the director, producer and the star. In your life, there are other co-stars, and of course, that significant other. But what if you happen not to be sharing the limelight in your other's life? Editing is always a pain, and in the final product, you will then learn if you are sharing the same billing, get relegated to a cameo, or in the worst case, get cut out entirely and lie on the floor of the editing room.

Similarly to my 2004 movie of the year, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this film too takes a look at the trying to forget someone in your life entirely. Except in this one, there is no faux-pas scientific method, but done by sheer human will and pretense.

This is a musical within a musical, and a beautifully choreographed one at that. First thoughts will be, hey, it looks like Moulin Rouge, with big colorful sets, dancers, singers, stunts, and songs with meaningful lyrics. Yes, and given similar themes like Love and Hate, but Perhaps Love tells its own story. The soundtrack befits the musical, and I won't be surprised if anyone adapts this for the stage too.

Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro plays Lin Jian Dong, a struggling film student when he met his love in Beijing. When the film begins, he's already an accomplished actor, and chances upon that same love in his latest movie collaboration. He's not the least surprised at being given the cold shoulder, and goes all out to try and win her back. But exactly what his motivations are - love, revenge, closure, that one pleasure-filled fling, remained to be seen.

Much is said about his ability to sing (or lack thereof), but I felt that he sang convincingly in this movie, and fleshed out his role as the pained lover realistically. When his final intentions are revealed, you can't help but to empathise - yes, that perhaps what he did was justified.

Contrasting Kaneshiro's character is Jackie Cheung's Nie Wen, the auteur director with his mood swings. His current lover and muse is Jian Dong's love in Beijing, and he comes to discover this fact after filming begins. He feels cheated upon, hurt, and channels his raw emotions onto the film. There should be no doubt as to Cheung's singing prowess - powerful is the one word summed up, though I thought it's always the same song? Between the two male leads, his is surprisingly magnanimous, and shows true courage as compared to Jian Dong.

Chinese actress Zhao Xun plays Sun Na, the woman caught between the two men. One is her lover in a past she wants to forget, while the other is her lover who brought her stardom in the present world. It's a highly complicated-in-emotions role, one which explores, and for those in love, might have felt in one way, or at some points in time. When you feel your love is holding you back, would you give it all up to pursue your dreams? Sun Na is one such woman, who will stop at absolutely no cost, and jump on every available opportunity presented, to seek fame and fortune. And it is she who walked out of Jian Dong's life at least twice, to be with an American director, and later, with Jian Dong's assistant director friend, before we currently see her in the present.

Ignoring Jian Dong when they meet in their new film, she can't help but feel her icy walls being broken down by his persistence, though Jian Dong had assistance from Korean Jin Ji-hee's role as Montage, a spirit who interacts with all characters and weaves in and out of the plot, bringing about a feel that there's always that higher being involved in events that unfold in life.

And the way the characters interact is probably fused so seamlessly into the musical, within the musical. Unable to express themselves freely, they do so through the musical's story, premise, and lines. It doesn't feel contrived, but the entire narrative seemed flawless. Even the flashbacks doesn't mar the pacing of the film, but brings about a natural progression and revelation of character development and events.

Perhaps Love is a truly wonderful experience, especially for those who have been in the same ship before. Its ending isn't typical, but one which perhaps is the most realistic an ending can be for the characters involved. Peter Chan has crafted a beautiful masterpiece of a musical for the Hong Kong film industry. Catch this on the big screen before its run is over!

This review first appeared in A Nutshell Review, and is reproduced with permission. __________________________________________

Reviewed by SinnermanEdit

What can love do?

Perhaps love can blind us all at different points of our lives. Perhaps love makes it easier for us to not acknowledge/accept who we really are. Perhaps love fuels our will to chase after that or whom or which we most desire. Perhaps love goads us into believing that the past, like those trains in 2046, is most glorious when viewed at present. Perhaps love forces us to be imprisoned in a stationary stance, so we do not move forward nor know which path we shall take? Or perhaps love presents a future which allows us to look at the present with tinted eyes, like we now do, our past. Perhaps love makes us realize what we are actually escaping from now (and then), and hopes to persuade us to quickly see the light. Perhaps love, over time, helps us grow as a person and wise up to the true paths we shall take, the real lives we shall lead.

Perhaps love. Or not.

But love certainly is an inextricable part of defining who we are as flesh and blood human beings. Perhaps love (and perhaps life), in their myriad shades of complexities, is the reason why Peter Chan decides to make this movie at this stage in his life. Too young to be respected as an elder, too old to be part of the hip and cool, the film maker may find himself suspended in a state of limbo, a state of defeated awareness, knowing what his life is all about up to this point in time. And in this state, he may somehow find the grace and courage to look at the mistakes he has since made and the hopes to share with all the wisdom gained from those mistakes. I can only guess.

Alas, perhaps the lessons he's trying to give, the wisdom he's trying to impart, may too never really save our lives, and he knows that. For those mistakes are part and parcel of what growing up is all about. The pains, the suffering, the losses, the joys, the highs, the mounting sensory pleasures, all of which are meant to be experienced and not learnt. Perhaps we will get to the point where Pete has reached and gain a totally different life view. For that is the privilege of every free and sentient individual. Whatever it is, it is hoped that perhaps love is strong enough to weather the storms and welcome the subsiding rains. To be at peace with ourselves, as we glide along the rainbows of those clearing blue skies. Perhaps love can do it all. Perhaps love cannot. But being the diehard Peter Ho-sun Chan fan that yours truly is, he'd certainly (and not perhaps) hope for the former.

(That’s it! If he had really died. It would be in my Top 3)

If he had really died, I would have found the film pointless and exceedingly selfish.

In the beginning, Jacky questioned the motivation of the 3 pivotal roles in the movie within his reality (but still our movie nonetheless, hehe). The boy does not really love the girl, nor the girl him. The girl does not really love the circus ringmaster, and neither does the ringmaster. So what or whom then, do they love actually?

This film posits that perhaps love (or the illusion of this sentiment) has blindfolded the trio. As their real life alter egos, the boy is fixated with unfinished business in the past, the ringmaster trapped and uninspired by the status quo of the present, the girl easily seduced with the ambitions of a soaring future. All 3 of them love something all right, but not necessarily each other (not for long anyway). The concept of love is thus intuitively broadened.

The girl has already dumped the boy twice for her one true love, stardom. She may jolly well do it thrice. The boy may appear to love the girl, but he may also only love the "ideal" of a girl which does not exist. His desperate attempts of salvaging the relationship stemmed from his love for the nostalgic, the love of romantic shadows or even wishful thinking. The boy and the girl take up most of Perhaps Love's screen time. This film (or at least the bulk of it) feels very much like their movie.

The older man, too tired to advance or backtrack, rests solemnly on his stagnating plateau. His spirits slowly fade as he counts his days and laments the hours. He can't recall when he lost his passion. He only knows to worry about his insecurity and fuel his bouts of jealousy. He fears whatever's left of him, is slipping way. It’s a spiraling path to self-destruction, had he not turn back in time. And turn back he did. In the end, he has figured out what's wrong with him and those around him. He is hence taking steps to turn the tide and reverse the currents. Someone in this movie said the ringmaster’s role is a second lead, with lesser screen time. Some or all of his scenes may even be excised without his knowing. But I'd dare say it is not. This, I'd hearteningly argue, is Jacky's movie after all. Our hero, hence, cannot die. Or his message would have all been a waste....

Had the film ended with Jacky's real life sacrifice, it will only enlighten the life of the other two protagonists (or not), making Perhaps Love a mere rehash of Phantom of the opera. His death will not only be jarring, it would have made the whole film seeming to toy with the audience' feelings, as it gnaws and scratches within its tragic confines.

Thankfully, a burst of fresh air permeates the movie's morning sun as it approaches its end, for a most positive conclusion is reached. Keeping in mind Jacky is the first to sort it all out, his use of the musical within the movie was actually intended to "illustrate" the respective true loves of all 3 of them. This reveals Jacky to be a truly generous soul. All 3 now understands (some takes longer to realize), what has previously imprisoned them. In the process, they are set free. Free to be themselves, free to pursue their respective journeys, free to be in love finally, in henceforth the broadest sense of the term. My heart skipped a beat as all the characters, faintly perhaps, smiled in the end. Sublime.

Imagine if you will now, the junction of a crossroad. Perhaps Love's denouement affords the 3 main protagonists a chance to move forward. They may have respectively chosen a different path, at least none of them is turning back. Love may have previously imprisoned them, but love, or this whole new aspect of love, has set them free.

This is one of the year's most life/love affirming films. Embrace it with all your might, my good people. Love love love it!!

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