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She Remembers, He Forgets

SHE REMEMBERS, HE FORGETS

Miriam Yeung remembers, Jan Lam forgets in She Remembers, He Forgets.

Chinese: 哪一天我們會飛  
Year: 2015  
Director: Adam Wong Sau-Ping
Producer: Saville Chan, Teddy Robin
Writer: Adam Wong Sau-Ping, Saville Chan
Cast:

Miriam Yeung Chin-Wah, Jan Lam Hoi-Fung, Cecilia So, Nick Yau Hawk-Sau, Ng Siu-Hin, Gill Mohindepaul Singh, Lam Chi-Chung, Bondy Chiu, Patrick Kong, Ranya Lee, Keith Ho, J. Arie, Babyjohn Choi, Tam Yuk-Ying, Chip Tsao, Adam Wong Sau-Ping

The Skinny: A combo of midlife crisis drama and nostalgic romance from the Way We Dance filmmaking team, She Remembers, He Forgets never quite achieves what itís trying to. Despite the fall-off in expectations this is a terrific production with solid performances, and still an OK visit for those seeking local Hong Kong stories.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Director Adam Wong and producer Saville Chan, the filmmaking team behind the hit The Way We Dance, get back to work with She Remembers, He Forgets, and everyoneís going to be tougher on them this time. Sorry guys, but thatís what happens when youíre a couple of unheralded filmmakers who basically come out of nowhere and hit it big. Despite having no stars, The Way We Dance was a surprise critical and box-office hit, and demonstrated that Hong Kong Cinema still had local stories to tell outside of cynical romcoms and self-aware genre callbacks. Like Dance, She Remembers, He Forgets features young actors and a school setting, but the larger budget, big-name leads and adult themes of regret and reconciliation mark this as a more complex and difficult endeavor than an upbeat teen anthem. Good luck, fellas! Iím honestly rooting for you.

She Remembers, He Remembers opens in the present day, following married couple Gigi (Miriam Yeung) and Shing-Wah (Jan Lam) as they muddle through daily life. Gigi works as a travel agent while Shing-Wah runs an interior design firm, and their conflicting work schedules and faltering communication show a marriage mired in a midlife malaise. After attending a college reunion, a nostalgic Gigi recalls her college days, when teen versions of herself (Cecilia So) and Shing-Wah (Nick Yau) met amidst endless lectures and school activities. There was a third party, however: So Bok-Man (Ng Siu-Hin), whose serious intelligence and dreams of flying contrasted with Shing-Wahís irreverent attitude and more grounded creative ambitions. For a while the three were inseparable friends, discussing their future dreams and bonding over a shared pet (Gigi found an abandoned white cockatoo). However, Gigi could only choose one of them.

Of course Gigi eventually chose Shing-Wah, and their fate apparently hinged on a single event: the Ying Yan College Open Day, when Shing-Wah built a miniature Hong Kong while Bok-Man had his own special flight project. Both tried to gain Gigiís attention that day, and periodic flashbacks build towards a climactic reveal of how exactly Gigi chose Shing-Wah over Bok-Man. Thatís one of the filmís two big questions, the second one being, ďWhere is Bok-Man now?Ē As the present-day Gigi begins to suspect that Shing-Wah is having an affair, she becomes more active in looking for Bok-Manís whereabouts. Her search requires little more than some Internet surfing and a particularly convenient meeting, but through these actions, Gigi is able to find some realizations about herself and both men. That said, itís pretty easy to figure out where Gigi and Shing-Wah finally end up. The film attempts narrative tension with its structure, but delivers little actual surprise.

Despite its common themes and story elements, She Remembers, He Forgets may be too ambitious. Its non-linear storytelling introduces too many running threads, and Adam Wong canít keep all of them active or immediate. Shifts between the past and present are inconsistent; sometimes a past scene will relate directly to something in the present, but other times the film simply cuts with no apparent rhythm. The pivotal Open Day event creates suspense but the final reveal doesnít really justify its use. Gigiís decision of who to love seems like a random happenstance more than a deliberate decision Ė which may be the filmmakersí intention, as fateís vagaries are a worthwhile subject. However, She Remembers, He Forgets doesnít work like a Sliding Doors, where the ďwhat ifĒ matters. When the film reveals how Gigi chose Shing-Wah, the response is just, ďOh, thatís how it happened,Ē and we donít see what was really lost besides one person being sadder than the others.

Also, the reveal removes Gigiís agency, making the younger version feel somewhat like a cipher. Newcomer Cecilia So has a fresh, endearing presence thatís hurt by her passivity, while Nick Yau performs decently as the comparatively lesser-developed Shing-Wah. Of the young actors, Ng Siu-Hin makes the strongest impression as Bok-Man, though that may be because the camera focuses on his expressions more, giving him a stronger inner life. As the adult versions of the main characters, Miriam Yeung and Jan Lam are fine. Yeung is immediately believable as a mature woman nearing midlife, while Lam possesses an undercurrent of bitterness that subtly conveys his characterís slow, almost begrudging maturation. Unfortunately, the adults do little of real import. They make small moves to find new positivity in their lives, but few decisive actions are taken. For a film about so many identifiable emotions, She Remembers, He Forgets is oddly not that good at making them resonate with the audience.

The film does possess marvelous details. The tone is pleasant, the art direction is great, and the soaring aerial camerawork of Hong Kong shows the city in a stirring, rare light. The depiction of nineties school life is enjoyable; Adam Wong has a real talent for capturing youthful energy, and brings it to the screen with remarkable affect. Select cameos and references add appeal for local audiences, though Wong adds a reference to himself and The Way We Dance thatís cringeworthy. Also, the classroom scenes are entertaining. The script offers relevant discussion of youthful dreams, but only partially addresses the practical reality that comes with them. This theme is actually very appropriate, especially given some of the plot turns in the present, but itís ultimately something that just kind of falls by the wayside. She Remembers, He Forgets seems to possess everything that it needs, from themes to emotions to situations, but it canít put everything into its proper place, resulting in a work that, no matter how much it yearns to, doesnít fully take flight. I admire the effort, though. (Kozo, 12/2015)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Panorama (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also available on Blu-ray Disc
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