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Calmi Cuori Appassionati
AKA: Between Calm and Passion
Kelly Chen and Yutaka Takenouchi
AKA: Reisei Jyonetsu No Aida
Year: 2001
Director: Isamu Nakae
Cast: Yutaka Takenouchi, Kelly Chan Wai-Lam, Michael Wong Mun-Tak, Yusuke Santamaria, Kyoko Shinohara
The Skinny: Kelly Chen's Japanese Cinema debut is an incredibly well-produced romantic drama that's glossier than anything she's done in Hong Kong. She and Yutaka Takenouchi make an attractive pair, and the pathos is inherently compelling. However, the film is so superficially beautiful that it borders on sterility.
by Kozo:
     Like frequent co-star Takeshi Kaneshiro, Kelly Chen has long been popular in Japan. She has appeared in the Kyoko Fukada TV drama Don't be a Crybaby, and has gained popularity thanks to numerous print ads as well as her obvious physical charms. Now she co-stars with Japanese heartthrob Yutaka Takenouchi in Calmi Cuori Appassionati, a romantic drama set in Japan and Italy.
     Takenouchi is Akagi, a budding painter who restores old paintings for a respected company in Florence, Italy. He has a circle of friends and a current girlfriend, but his heart belongs to someone else: Aoi (Kelly Chen), who he first met in 1991, though they broke it off midway through the nineties. Aoi now works in Milan and has a rich Chinese boyfriend named Michael (Michael Wong). She's claims she's happy now, but Michael isn't so sure.
     One thing that's certain is that Akagi isn't happy; his job goes on the rocks and he's still madly in love with Aoi. Through numerous flashbacks and some voiceover, we learn how the doomed couple first met in college and how their love deepened through passing years and personal difficulties. We also learn about the forces that tore them apart, and also the serendipity that's brought them in touch with each other again. What rings in Akagi's mind is a promise they made one passionate night in 1991. They swore to meet again in Italy on Aoi's thirtieth birthday. The question arises: will the promise be kept and these two insanely attractive people find love?
     Also, they have to find personal fulfillment and appropriate conclusions to whatever side issues plague their lives. Akagi has issues with his former place of employ, where he was framed for the destruction of a valuable painting. Aoi must come to terms with her feelings towards Michael, and whether she actually loves him or not.
     These issues are meant to shed greater light onto the characters - to actually make us care about them. However, just because something is supposed to be touching doesn't mean it always is. Calmi Cuori Appassionati lacks - of all things - passion. It's so precise and beautiful in its construction and presentation that it comes across as a perfect flower vase - beautiful but untouchable. Everything is presented in such a way to make us care, but just because the filmmakers hit all the marks doesn't mean it's actually going to work. If anything, the precision with which the film is told renders it practically sterile.
     Still, the movie was a hit with people and it's understandable as to why. It's hard to not feel for a film that tugs so relentlessly at the heartstrings. And the actors are amazingly pretty. Yutaka Takenouchi and Kelly Chen are terrific eye candy and both handle their roles well. Takenouchi gets the nod for acting thanks to his rugged presence and convincing handle of the Italian language. Chen is incredibly beautiful, but that works against her here. She's never been one to display internal emotion. Instead, she comes across with an almost icy exterior that, while fitting for the character, only adds to the film's emotional distance. It'd be great if we could see into Aoi without a voiceover or flashback to help us, but we never really get the chance.
     Ultimately, it's the pull of fate that has the most effect on the lovers, but the film never truly reaches a huge Officer and a Gentleman-style payoff. I suppose that restraint is keeping with the "calm" indicated in the film's title. The two lovers are always between surrendering to their feelings and trying to be pragmatic, and that constant tug-of-war makes their love last for ten movie years, two actual hours, and at least four protracted endings. In the end, I did want them to get together, but mostly because that would mean the movie was over. (Kozo 2002)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Universe Laser
Japanese Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen