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Gimme Gimme
"Dude, I saw her first!"

Siu Yu-Wa, Yoyo Chan and Tsui Tin-Yau give and get
Year: 2001  
Director: Lawrence Lau Kwok-Cheung  
Producer: Johnnie To Kei-Fung  
Cast: Yoyo Chen, Tsui Tin-Yau, Siu Yu-Wa, Yuen Cheuk-Wai, Law Wai-Ying
The Skinny: Natural acting and buoyant energy fuel this successful Hong Kong experiment in youthful realism. Lawrence Lau and Johnnie To should be lauded for their attempts to create real film rather than the usual pop-star fueled commercial vehicles.
by Kozo:
     Lawrence Lau's last film was the harrowing youth drama Spacked Out, which used unknown actors and realistic situations in the service of social commentary. The same could be said for his latest, Gimme Gimme, but the social commentary isn't as hot-button or bombastic as Spacked Out's. Gimme Gimme features a cast of young high school-age unknowns who struggle with the pain and discovery of love. Their concerns are more mundane than those of the girls in Spacked Out, but the feelings these kids experience are no less real.
     Gimme Gimme follows a group of friends who are due to graduate from school within a year or so. More importantly, they hang out, jam with their makeshift rock band, skateboard with the other local kids, and fall in and out of love. Track star Skid (Siu Yu-Wa) meets the girl of his dreams Pat (Yoyo Chan), but lacks the guts to make his move. Thankfully, his friend Fion (Law Wai-Ying) manages to befriend Pat, and brings her along to their group outings. However, Pat takes a shine to Lobo (Tsui Tin-Yau) and vice-versa. Despite this, Lobo encourages his buddy Skid to make his move on her.
     This standard romantic triangle setup is just the beginning, however. In addition to the romantic pinings of those three, we have the player attitude of Soda (Yuen Cheuk-Wai), who views love as a game and keeps numerous girlfriends at his beck and call. Orange-haired Fion switches boyfriends constantly, and turns to anonymous phone chatting to find her ideal love. Other friends come and go with their recognizably painful experiences with love, but the film always returns to these central characters to make its ultimate conclusion on teenage romantic angst.
     However, said conclusion actually never occurs, which is where the film transcends its numerous clichéd plot devices. The existential underpinnings to these romantic explorations are old hat for Hong Kong flicks, but Lawrence Lau doesn't over-analyze or dress up the situations. Everything is shown in a realistic, impartial manner that's infused with buoyant youthful energy. Personal issues get discussed here or there, but any platitudes speak from a character's personality and not some higher narrative or thematic goal. More often than not, we experience the emotional difficulties of these kids as they happen, which is more rare in cinema than you would think.
     Adding to the realism are the non-judgemental depictions of the main characters. The kids aren't perfect, nor do they necessarily pay for their moral transgressions. Soda's player attitudes are inherently awful, but his ultimate lesson is personal rather than universal. The friends aren't above embarassing or exploiting outsiders for their personal amusement, nor are they insensitive to the sudden pain and heartbreak of others. Even upper-class good girl Pat (who is essentially the film's objectified dream girl) has her share of self-centered issues.
     Director Lau wrings real, natural performances from his cast of unknowns. The anger, pain and joy that they feel seem to naturally spring from their personalities and situations. Adding to this is the distinct lack of adult figures, which only appear on the edges of their lives. Of all the kids, Lobo has the biggest parental issue. His dad is in jail and his mom is gone, which fuels some of his self-doubt. Otherwise, the world we experience in Gimme Gimme is the world that these kids inhabit. The adults are static figures outside their immediate world - what matters are the friends and lovers they're in the process of gaining or losing.
     Ultimately the film's numerous plotlines must reach a conclusion. However, despite the cheesy events (the kids are going to perform their first concert!) and necessary romantic conclusions (Pat has to choose one of her suitors), the world of Gimme Gimme never feels less than real. Love and pain fade, friendships strengthen or fail, and youth find their own resiliency. The film's bouncy, energetic feeling lasts long after the credits roll.
     If Gimme Gimme can be faulted for anything, it's that its subject matter could be classified as minor and inconsequential. The experiences of the kids in Gimme Gimme are common and unspectacular in theme and consequence. None of the characters experience any personal trauma of the Spacked Out variety, nor do they act out the lurid coming-of-age melodrama of a S.E. Hinton novel. The only thing special about this movie is that the kids and the situations are distinctly Hong Kong and inherently real. And quite frankly, that's more than enough to make Gimme Gimme a good, even excellent, little film. (Kozo 2002)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Chinastar Entertainment Group
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Chinastar Entertainment Group

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