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If You Are The One
If You Are The One

Ge You and Shu Qi make a connection in If You Are The One.
Chinese: 非誠勿擾  
Year: 2008
Director: Feng Xiaogang  
Writer: Feng Xiaogang, Chen Kuo-Fu
Cast: Ge You, Shu Qi, Alex Fong Chung-Sun, Vivian Hsu, Fan Wei, Che Xiao, Feg Yuanzheng, Hu Ke, Luo Haiqiong, Miumiu
The Skinny: Smart and entertaining, if not exciting or romantic. If You Are The One ends oddly and is a bit too long, but it's better than most films of its genre. Feng Xiaogang continues his string of hits - which is fine, because his movies are usually good.
by Kozo:

Feng Xiaogang takes a break from movies featuring war, martial arts or Andy Lau for If You Are The One, a commercial romance that hearkens back to Feng's days as China's number one purveyor of popular comedies. Starring Feng's usual leading man Ge You, If You Are The One was inspired by the 1998 Taiwanese film The Personals (that film's writer-director, Chen Kuo-Fu, serves as producer and co-writer of If You Are The One) and proves entertaining and unusually smart for a commercial film aimed at the masses. A laggy third act and an anticlimactic ending bring things down a notch, and the film isn't as forthcoming as it could be, with more said than is actually shown. However, Feng Xiaogang's instincts are sharp; the film possesses an appreciable dry wit, and the fine performances and dynamite location photography shore things up considerably. Ultimately, If You Are The One is much better than its genre normally delivers. The glass is half-full over here.

Having made an instant fortune through his sale of the Conflict Resolution Terminal 2008 (a device previously used for laughs in Pang Ho-Cheung's AV), middle-aged entrepreneur Qin Fen (Ge You) turns his attention to finding a wife. Using an online personals service, he auditions potential spouses, but few make a lasting impression. Qin Fen's stalwart personality is partly to blame; he's intent on finding a suitable match, and is willing to walk away from even an absolute goddess if there's a hint of incompatibility. So it goes with comely flight attendant Smiley Liang (Shu Qi), who Qin Fen initially recognizes as a poor match. Regardless, the two commiserate over drinks, where the melancholy Smiley reveals that she's dating a married man (Alex Fong). The two part intending never to meet again, with each returning to their own pursuit of love.

But as fate and the screenwriters would have it, Qin Fen and Smiley meet again on an airline flight, with Smiley working, Qin Fen traveling, and Smiley's boyfriend and wife also present. The coincidence draws Qin Fen and Smiley back together, propelling them on the road to friendship and perhaps more, with occasional stops at fine luxury entertainment locations, where they sip expensive drinks while verbally sparring over their views on love. Qin Fen aims for a home run with his potential mate, while Smiley seems willing to settle if she can't have her idealized, unattainable love. In response, Qin Fen tries to convince her otherwise while attempting not to appear like he's trying to. It's the story of one man's tough love, except with a picturesque tour of fabulous locations that only people with money can visit. Somewhere in there, Qin Fen's loyalty and stalwart affection is supposed to comfort Smiley's wounded heart. Or something like that.

Feng Xiaogang continues to demonstrate his proven strength with satire, poking fun at the contradictions of love and marriage in these rapidly changing times. People are busy with careers and money-making, so marriage and emotions are slyly portrayed as commodities that people barter with. The script is frequently quite smart when it makes fun of modern dating, with Qin Fen's many unsuccessful dates providing funny, entertaining commentary. If You Are the One is a misleading title, as it implies grand romanticism, while the original Chinese title translates to something like "Don't waste my time if you aren't serious." The implication there is that these are people who use personal ads to seek something meaningful, and not just empty hook-ups. The problem: people have a different idea about what "serious" means, and that push-and-pull is the ultimate conflict between Qin Fen and Smiley. Can they muddle through their differences and find a happy ending for themselves?

This is a commercial film so yes, they can, though Feng Xiaogang takes his sweet time getting there - and even then one might question if the film ends in a happy, bittersweet or simply odd manner. If You Are the One qualifies as a Lunar New Year movie (in the Mainland, the Lunar New Year movie period can run up to two months), and it would be bad form to deliver something with a complete downer ending during that lucrative film season. Nevertheless, the film nearly goes there thanks to some narrative twists that seem straight out of the tearjerker playbook. Feng's choices give the film some surprising emotional weight, but any idea that this is a substantial romantic drama is contradicted by the film's knowing details, including meta-references to the crappy global economy and Feng's satirical dialogue and situations. Basically, the whole thing is too measured to be anything but well-meaning, talky fluff possessing of occasional romantic leanings. Those seeking grand romance had best rewatch Titanic instead.

Still, what If You Are The One does well, it does so exceptionally. Feng Xiaogang's script is witty and smart, and Ge You is a charismatic, if unconventional leading man. Both he and Shu Qi bring more to their characters than lesser actors could, and manage to create a believable bond between two people who should rightly be nothing more than strangers. The film details their entire relationship from its very beginning, and by the time platitudes and clichéd dialogue begin issuing from their mouths, they've already earned sympathy. The pair is backed up by the fine cinematography and excellent locations; if one wanted to use If You Are The One as a China travel planner, they certainly could do worse. A third act detour to Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido seals the deal: this is a well-made, smart and very nice-looking movie that's entertaining and enjoyable, if not notable or exceptionally moving. The fact that the leads don't even kiss hardly seems to matter. Besides, would anyone really want to see Ge You make out with Shu Qi? I'm guessing no, so that's another way If You Are The One succeeds. (Kozo 2009)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Mega Star (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English Subtitles
Numerous extras
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

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