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Anna Magdalena
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Kelly Chan, Aaron Kwok and Takeshi Kaneshiro in Anna Magdalena
Year: 1998  
Director: Yee Chung-Man  
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing, Kelly Chan Wai-Lam, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing, Anita Yuen Wing-Yi, Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau, Josie Ho Chiu-Yi, Leo Koo Kui-Kei
The Skinny: Exactingly-staged romance/comedy/drama/fantasy that surpasses its own pretensions to charm and entertain.
by Kozo:
     Longtime production designer Yee Chung-Man makes his directorial debut with this quirky, offbeat, but affecting romantic drama. The title refers to Johann Sebastian Bach's beloved minuet Anna Magdalena, which he wrote for his wife.
     Takeshi Kaneshiro is Chan Kar-Fu, a piano tuner who befriends wandering would-be novelist Yau Muk-Yan (Aaron Kwok). When Mok Man-Yee (Kelly Chan) moves upstairs, a delicate love triangle forms. Fu truly loves her, but canít compete with the rough-hewn charm of Yau Muk-Yan, who begins as Mok Man-Yeeís antagonist but soon moves into her heart and apartment. Yau and Yeeís love affair is a tempestuous one; Yau wears his heart on his sleeve but Yee hides it, fearing rejection and disappointment. While those two battle among themselves, Fu becomes lovelorn and can only continue to pine from afar.
     At this point, the film has done nothing more than display an effective, but distant examination of Feel 100% love. The last third of the film goes totally over the top, taking the film into an entirely different realm. Fu submits his personal expression of affection for Yee: a bizarre pulp novel dubbed ďThe XO Pair.Ē Itís a cheesy fantasy about two would-be Robin Hoods (played by Kaneshiro and Chan) who attempt to deliver a message of love from a shadowy recluse to a long unrequited love who happens to be called Mok Man-Yee. What makes the final sequence so deliriously enjoyable is the Brazil-like quality to Fuís fantasy. It tells through surreal comedy what Fu could never say throughout the entire film: that he loves Mok Man-Yee. 
     All this is a bit calculated, but there is an undeniable charm and even magic to this simple, but substantial examination of the expression of love. This is a marvelously creative film that displays the best of what Hong Kong Cinema currently offers, with thoughtful production design, well-developed themes, and charismatic stars. Takeshi Kaneshiro is muted as Fu, but he gets to display his gift for pathetic charm in the XO Pair sequence. Aaron Kwok turns in an effective over-acting performance that cribs from Chow Yun-Fatís eighties repertoire. Though still an unskilled actress, Kelly Chan has improved since her earlier work. She has a luminous quality that works incredibly well on film, especially during the XO Pair sequence, which is the film's undeniable centerpiece. Itís so beautifully shot and exactingly staged that it risks becoming cloying and just plain inappropriate. Yet itís the filmís ultimate conceit and credit that it can shift gears so effortlessly—from modern romantic comedy to whimisical fairy-tale fantasy—and still stay within reach of its basic emotional center. This is a decidedly different and wholly enjoyable Hong Kong film. (Kozo 1998)
Awards: 18th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
• Nomination - Best Cinematography (Peter Pau Tak-Hei)
• Nomination - Best Art Direction (Poon Chi-Wai)
• Nomination - Best Costume Design (Ng Lei-Lo))
• Nomination - Best Original Score (Chiu Tsang-Hei)
5th Annual Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards
• Recommended Film
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
image courtesy of the Hong Kong Film Critics Society
 Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen