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Love is Elsewhere

Love is Elsewhere     Love is Elsewhere

(left) Yumiko Cheng and Ken Hung, and (right) Sherman Chung and Jason Chan in Love is Elsewhere.

Chinese: 愛情萬歲  
Year: 2008
Director: Vincent Chui Wan-Shun  
Producer: Ng Kin-Hung
Writer: Cheung Fan
Cast: Yumiko Cheng Hei-Yi, Sherman Chung Shu-Man, Chelsea Tong So-Kei, Pakho Chau Pak-Ho, Jason Chan Pak-Yue, Ken Hung Cheuk-Lap, Patrick Tang Kin-Won, Yan Ng Yat-Yin, Charmaine Fong Ho-Man, Clarence Hui Yuen, Louis Cheung Kai-Chung
The Skinny:

Love is Elsewhere is an attractive and average entry in the familiar youth romance genre, and will likely entertain its target audience. Frankly, hating on this movie would be extraordinarly mean. Agreeable fluff, but not much else.

 
  Review
by Kozo:

Even more new idols get a shot at the big screen in Love is Elsewhere, an agreeable though average take on the youth romance film. Former independent director Vincent Chui (Fear of Intimacy) takes his first shot at the mainstream, delivering a sweet little movie that should appeal to idol seekers and young adults maneuvering through the thorny briar patch of modern Hong Kong love. The film serves up attractive, though not always realistic situations, gives them a shiny upscale packaging, and loads on the self-absorption for easy audience identification. After all, aren't average modern young people totally self-absorbed when it comes to idealizing and fulfilling their desire for love? And isn't unrealistically learning to conquer one's own selfishness the very theme upon which many popular romance films have been built? I could be wrong, but I'm going to guess that the answers to those questions are "yes" and "yes" - so if you fall into the camp that enjoys these types of predictable youth romances, then Love is Elsewhere is for you. It's a movie with a demographic.

Sony Music singer Jason Chan is Sung, a likeable young dude who grins a lot and runs Soho with Love, a local bar/cafe, alongside girlfriend Ching (EEG singer Sherman Chung). Soho with Love is located in, duh, Soho (South Hollywood Road, Central) just off the midlevel escalators, and offers more than just a thirst quencher. For a measly HK$100 (about US$12.80), customers can engage the listening ear of either Sung or Ching, who offer counsel on romantic issues for the aforementioned fee. The service is apparently quite popular, with everyone in the film hitting up the duo for unlicensed therapy. Adorable, puppy-faced Sing (EEG singer Ken Hung) is one of their regular customers. He's a delivery boy and wannabe-singer, and secretly loves the older, sophisticated Sandra (EEG singer Yumiko Cheng, the lone "old idol" among the film's stars). She runs an art gallery, but has minor differences with boyfriend Fung Chi-Ho (Patrick Tang), who's always busy checking on the stock market instead of her. Sing pines and pouts from afar, while delivering food all over Central in trendy, fashion-forward outfits. Can Sing and his fabulous purple scarf win Sandra's heart?

Meanwhile, lothario doctor Joe (Warner Music singer Pakho Chow) dumps his girlfriend (East Asia Music singer Charmaine Fong), but soon turns his attentions towards Kelly (Chelsea Tong), a pretty young thing whose curious method of playing hard-to-get whips Joe into a frenzy. Joe has a history of callously tossing girlfriends aside, but for some reason Kelly has him rethinking his player ways. Joe turns to Sung and Ching for advice, and the two gladly help out in between counseling sessions with Sing and Sandra. At the same time, Sung and Ching have their own issues; they're supposed to be saving to study in Beijing, but Sung wants to carelessly blow money on a big trip. Ching also has an old boyfriend who wants her back, and Sung fights back by attempting to send her a message in some old code from their childhood. Yeah, that's a smart way to retain your relationship: communicate obliquely in a language meant to prove your personal, over-idealized connection with your partner. Apparently, the film is saying that relationships need to fit an individual's exacting standards, or they should be discarded like yesterday's Apple Daily. In modern love, self-absorption is the key.

Well, not really, and Love is Elsewhere does the expected and/or commercial thing by teaching these kids that their self-absorbed ways are not the best manner in which to hook up. In the end, you need to decide who you want and not just want you want, and then you've got to chase after that person so that they will become yours. Thanks to some handy realization, plus some cloying advice from Sing's batty uncle (musician Clarence Hui), the kids get the message and seek resolution to their romantic maladies during a protracted Christmas Eve finale that lasts a lot longer than it has to. Love is Elsewhere's exploration of young love is ultimately so minor that it's hard to become that involved. Characters experience quick changes of heart, coincidences occur far too frequently, and relationships are only superficially explored. This isn't a deep film requiring heavy attention; the film simply observes the minor push and pull of young love, and any identification felt is likely of the "Yeah, I can imagine that" variety. The film doesn't engender strong emotions at all, and instead keeps things light, pleasant, and agreeable. Those with high expectations will likely be annoyed at the vacuity of it all, but the easily entertained? Love is Elsewhere has their back.

Which is why it's really hard to knock Love is Elsewhere for being anything than what it is: solid fluff for a particular demographic. This is a film where an adorable EEG singer wearing a purple scarf delivers food for a living - it's not to be taken too seriously, and the film follows suit by making everything light and innocuous. Vincent Chui gives the film a sophisticated, attractive sheen, and milks his Hong Kong Island location for every ounce of urban charm that he can muster. The actors are likeable and fresh-faced (save Yumiko Cheng, who's likeable but has also been around for six years), with Ken Hung gaining instant qualification in a "most loveable" contest thanks to a cuddly, family-friendly cuteness that could rival that of any Sanrio character. The film's conflicts and problems are easily solved, everyone ultimately has the best of intentions, and all potential unhappiness is smoothed over easily. Love is Elsewhere is like the perfect fantasy of love in the big city: serendipitous and potentially exciting, but also safe and unrealistically uncomplicated. This is an urban fairy tale for young people who believe in true love but are too hip to admit it, and that probably accounts for a good portion of the paying - or maybe downloading - Hong Kong movie audience. They're probably already waiting anxiously to B.T. it. (Kozo 2008)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

images courtesy of Buddy Film Creative Workshop

   
 
 
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