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The Truth about Jane and Sam
Chinese: 真心話
Fann Wong and Peter Ho
Year: 1999
Director: Derek Yee Tung-Sing
Cast: Peter Ho Yun-Tung, Fann Wong (Fan Man-Fong), Chin Kar-Lok, Simon Lui Yu-Yeung, Cheng Pei-Pei, Joe Cheung Tung-Cho, Jason Chu Wing-Tong, Michelle Wong Man, Louis Yuen Siu-Cheung
The Skinny: Well-produced romantic drama from Derek Yee manages to affect despite an abundance of plot devices and unnecessary voiceover.
by Kozo:

Derek Yee’s latest film is calculated, annoyingly existential, but still utterly watchable. The Truth About Jane and Sam is a wrong-side-of-the-tracks love story between reporter Sam (Peter Ho) and wild youth Jane (Fann Wong). Sam is an idealistic upper-class sort who first meets Jane as she’s grifting middle-aged men for money. He decides to use her as his subject for a piece on lost youth of the nineties - a plan that Jane only agrees to after he proffers 3000 dollars.

So begins the tale of two opposite youth who find understanding in each others’ differences and solace in each others’ arms. Or something like that. There is a genuine quality to the burgeoning romance between Jane and Sam, though that may be due to the chemistry of the young stars rather than an ace script. Derek Yee goes a little further than he should with this movie instead of trusting the material. There is an overabundance of voiceover and characters stop to wonder who they are at inappropriate moments.

In fact, the whole film screams “post modern self-reflection” with every other scene. We owe this to Wong Kar-Wai, who may have started a lousy trend as everybody and his brother now has a movie with a voiceover. Wong uses it well as nothing really active happens in his films. Everyone is passive and restrained, so voiceover helps to elucidate character. Yee’s characters are trapped into a formulaic plot, so voiceover shouldn’t even be necessary. We should be able to see the characters change in their behavior and emotion, just as we saw Lau Ching-Wan and Anita Yuen change in Yee’s superior C’est La Vie, Mon Cheri.

Yee certainly had enough to work with in this movie. He has two fresh young actors who bring little baggage to their roles, and a tried and true romance formula. In trying to tie the film into current angst, Yee only weighs his story down. That and the standard side characters (Chin Kar-Lok’s triad brother) only serve to make the film more ponderous than it should be.

Not that this is a bad movie; it’s actually very thoughtful and well-produced. Less trite than it actually sounds, the film succeeds despite the abundance of obvious plot devices. Nowadays I give points for coherency and good construction - this movie passes with flying colors. (Kozo 1999)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Winson Entertainment
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
image courtesy of Winson Entertainment Distribution, Ltd. Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen