Site Features
- Asian Film Awards
- Site Recommendations

- Reader Poll Results

- The Sponsor Page
- The FAQ Page
support this site by shopping at
Click to visit
Asian Blu-ray discs at

Ivy Chen, Fiona Sit and Yang Zishan are Girls.
Chinese: 閨密  
Year: 2014  
Director: Barbara Wong Chun-Chun  
Producer: Barbara Wong Chun-Chun
Writer: Barbara Wong Chun-Chun, Erica Li, Skipper Cheng

Fiona Sit Hoi-Kei, Ivy Chen Yi-Han, Yang Zishan, Wallace Chung, Shawn Yue, Vanness Wu, Barbara Wong Chun-Chun, Hiro Hayama

The Skinny: Sometimes entertaining but poorly developed comedy-drama about three lifelong friends. Despite a two-hour running time and some good performances, director Barbara Wong doesn't convince of her themes or messages. Featuring Fiona Sit as the year's most diabolical villain.
by Kozo:

Director Barbara Wong flirts with new highs and lows in her friendship anthem Girls, starring Fiona Sit, Ivy Chen and Yang Zishan. The three play old friends approaching the big three-oh with varying degrees of self-awareness, and the film gains a meta-edge thanks to Barbara Wong appearing as herself, interviewing the girls for Women’s Private Parts 2, a fictional(?) sequel to her 2001 documentary titled, duh, Women’s Private Parts. Self-insertion is nothing new for Wong, who previously played herself in Break Up Club, which also featured a storyline about a documentary and starred Fiona Sit. Girls finds Wong in full-on girl power mode, telling a story about young women who take charge of their lives while supporting their friends on the same journey. There are fine themes in that premise and Wong has some of the skills (dialogue, a way with actors) to bring about her vision.

Then the actual film happens. Girls opens at college graduation, where Kimmy (Fiona Sit) threatens to jump off a building because a guy dumped her and her dad is forcing her to go to the U.S. for grad school – and you know, she just hates speaking English. Her pals Siwen (Ivy Chen) and Xiaomei (Yang Zishan) out Kimmy as a histrionic drama queen before one of the other girls accidentally falls off the building. She survives, but hey – attempted suicide as comedy! Some years later, the three cohabitate in a super-huge flat in an undisclosed city in China (Or is it Taiwan?). Xiaomei is an assistant to director Barbara Wong, while Kimmy runs an events company and Siwen works at a posh hotel and is about to marry the handsome Lin Jie (Wallace Chung). Unfortunately, Lin Jie is caught with his hand in someone else’s cookie jar, leading to a cancelled wedding and a deluxe Siwen meltdown where she lolls about in a dazed stupor. How will her friends get Siwen out of her funk?

Sitcom antics fill the first 30 minutes of Girls, as Kimmy and Xiaomei alternate between babysitting and cheering up Siwen. Said babysitting finds Siwen sitting in a wheelchair with relationship PTSD, while the cheering up portion features her friends making amusing personal sacrifices to show just how much they care about her. The antics are occasionally overbearing, but Barbara Wong sketches the girls entertainingly and the actresses show a comfortable chemistry. As seen in her first fiction film (Truth or Dare – Sixth Floor Rear Flat), Barbara Wong can capture youth with style and energy, and she wrings confident performances from her cast. Girls is best when its characters engage in less dramatic activities, like bantering, flirting or just hanging around. The film occupies the same territory as Tiny Times with its friendship themes and materialism, but Girls is more realistic and grounded in its portrayal of urban life. There’s no excuse for that obnoxiously massive flat, though.

Girls also features boys. Siwen isn’t over Lin Jie, but a drunken night of karaoke introduces her to Qiao Li (Shawn Yue), who’s so awesome that Siwen suspects that he’s gay. The two start a tentative friendship, but old wounds have yet to heal. Kimmy is a player who owns her sexuality and shamelessly attempts to seduce rockstar Jiu Tian (Vanness Wu) at a party. But Jiu Tian is more interested in Xiaomei, and brings her to his boat to show off his collection of sounds (Hot!). Xiaomei is swept off her feet, while Kimmy is skeptical because she thinks rock stars are baaaaad. However, since Kimmy was also after Jiu Tian, there just might be a conflict of interest. Barbara Wong takes most of the film’s two hour running time to break up her girls, but she’ll get them back together. That’s a spoiler, but come on – who actually thinks this is going to be a movie about how friendship sucks?

Despite the long buildup, the girls’ big blow-up is weakly developed. Conflicts arise during showy arguments, but the roots of those conflicts were only barely hinted at previously. The issues are familiar – jealousy, neglect, men, the desire to control your friends’ lives. Well, maybe that last one isn’t familiar, but that’s what Kimmy is about. Kimmy is a domineering diva whose extensive meddling nearly makes her a villain. She’s manipulative, invasive and incredibly catty but she’ll sacrifice herself to protect her friends from their own bad decisions – or, at least, the decisions that Kimmy thinks are bad. Kimmy seems like a terrible friend, but the film sells Kimmy’s self-righteousness positively, which is troubling. Also questionable: The thriller climax, where one of the girls is threatened with rape only to have the whole thing resolved in a preposterously comedic way. Predictably, the girls reaffirm their friendship through these experiences, but the male gender doesn’t come off looking so great.

It’s not wrong to portray men poorly, but all things being equal, Girls delivers male caricatures more than it does male characters. Shawn Yue’s Qiao Li ends up looking OK, though he possesses odd behaviors (when shushing Siwen, he covers her mouth and pushes her against a wall or object) that seem threatening enough that one wonders how they made it into the film. Sinister habits aside, Qiao Li is basically a “Best Man Ever” with a backstory that makes him a suitable beau for Siwen. Shawn Yue is quite likable in the role, and he and Ivy Chen share good chemistry. Beyond that, it gets dicier. Wallace Chung’s Lin Jie is only a catalyst for Siwen’s growth, while Vanness Wu’s Jiu Tian gets jobbed pretty hard. Jiu Tian is portrayed as a cool guy – a hipster musician who seems to have his crap together – but he’s ultimately a cipher used to ignite a Kimmy vs. Xiaomei fight.

The triangle between Kimmy, Xiaomei and Jiu Tian is the most problematic dynamic, as neither the conflict nor its resolution is adequately supported. Much of the breakdown hinges on an unclear event (Did two characters sleep together or not?), and some of the related issues (Is Kimmy really jealous of Xiaomei? Is Jiu Tian really a good guy?) are brought up but never dealt with. Also, the resolution involves characters choosing not to seek the truth while claiming a profound epiphany about the whole experience. Sorry, claiming a win when you don’t even know what happened is just awful. One could read this as commentary on self-deluding youth, but that doesn’t seem to be what Barbara Wong is going for. She really seems to be pushing specific ideas or wisdom, but without a film that convinces, all you have are contrived outcomes and characters that look self-serving or loopy.

Ultimately, Wong does her characters a disservice by trying to align them with her agenda. The disappointment is that Girls is largely fine in the name of entertainment. Dialogue is sharp, timing is good, production values are attractive, and the cast is solid – including Fiona Sit, who manages to make Kimmy charismatic if not likable. The other girls aren’t necessarily likable either, but they do have relatable and sympathetic aspects. One would hope that they figure things out after going through this wringer of clichéd relationships and plot devices. But even though they claim they did…did they really? I simply don’t buy it. Barbara Wong might have been better off dialing down her ambitions to make a straight populist film rather than one that tries so hard to say something. As is, Girls will speak to some audiences, but they’re likely the ones who don’t need any convincing. (Kozo, 8/2014)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Kam & Ronson Enterprises Co Ltd
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin and Cantonese Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 6.1 / DTS
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
Find this at
 Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen