Tuesday, 5 April 2011

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Don't Go Breaking My Heart [Review]


Opinion: B-

Johnny To doesn't direct many rom-coms with his last in 2004, but it doesn't feel like we'll miss anything even if he doesn't do them. Don't Go Breaking My Heart isn't as heart-wrenching as it sounds, but rather it feels more like a soothing stroll through the park - comfortable but nothing essential. Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan nevertheless stood out with a good performance to make this a routine excuse for genre fans and couples to buy a ticket into the theatres.   


Louis Koo, high-flying playboy owner of an international finance institute, sets his eyes on Gao Yuan Yuan from his office window. Gao, an executive with intention of settling down, just had her heart broken by a heartless boyfriend. Then she meets Daniel Wu, a talented yet disheartened architect, but someone whom she can rely on. While bad women have all the fun, nice girls get their hearts broken over and over again by bad boys. For frothy romantic comedies calculated to tickle the fantasies of Hong Kong’s ordinary Joes of both genders, the Johnnie To-Wai Ka-Fai partnership packs the best punches; a pretty cast, clever twists, and a you-can-have-it-all brain candy.

The last well-received romantic-comedy by Johnny To was in 2004, so it's been a good seven years and it sure seems like he has lost touch with the genre game. He does direct good ones, mind you. Remember 2003's Turn Left Turn Right?

Set in a hustling urban cityscape, the "threesome" story between Gao, Koo, and Wu seems to be inevitable as the famed fairy tale brand of love has turned into a rarity where one's love can easily shift about within moments of hours. Koo is a player who decides with his male testosterone, Wu is the Prince Charming who's forever accommodating for true love, and Yuan is the girl-next-door who seeks love but is unknowingly entangled within a complex love web that recent films always seem to portray of urban dwellers. Sounds like a good story that the hectic workforce may relate to? It probably is.

But it was shallowly handled and thus not able to evoke emotions within.

Don't be mistaken, this film isn't that hard to sit through with the occasional hilarious gags and its light-hearted overtone. Not to forget Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan's performance that is possibly the greatest highlight of this film, if not the theme song performed by David Tao. With a great performance by Gao and having two veteran heartthrobs on screen, it is alarming to walk out of the theatre not experiencing an emotional overhaul and inspired to seek romance.

Without the much desired tear-jerking element, the film now relies upon interesting daily scenarios to instill interest throughout. This is especially noticed in the cross-communication between opposite office buildings through ceiling-to-floor glass windows with a great display of non-verbal language. We see magic performance and smiley faces constructed with post-it stickers, it is truly amazing how some of the best moments in life are not achieved through words.

The entire show is essentially revolving around these three characters and unfortunately didn't allow its supporting cast much needed opportunities to shine, which might have benefited this film in my opinion. It is fine if the film is able to bring the main leads into the hearts of the audience, but it didn't when it should have. I begin to question To's intention of making this film, as it didn't seem like he produced it because he felt a strong note of connection to it.

This won't be the film to catch if you want to be introduced to Johnny To's filmography, but still it makes an acceptable film for those in need of a genre fix.

(Preview screening courtesy of Clover Films)


6 comments:

  1. Great review! I'm really agree with your opinion that we won't miss anything even if Johnny To doesn't do rom-coms.

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  2. I went to the theatre and watched this show with no expectations...but was really wowed by it. I enjoyed it very much! I thought the pace was handled well...and the acting was solid...true, it is no Golden Horse nominee material...but it certainly shines as a romantic comedy gem...two thumbs up!

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  3. @Jaccstev Yes, maybe I'm too used to Johnny To doing films like Election. Thank you so much! :D

    @Anonymous Agreed that the pace was good and comfortable, felt nice and soothing with a great performance by Gao. Maybe it's just me that the characters didn't grow into me, but yes it's a good rom-com fix. Thanks for sharing your opinions, really appreciate it! :D

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  4. Excellent review. You have a very charming and thoughtful style. This sounds like an interesting film that I will have to check out.

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  5. J-Son, great review! I might enjoy this film!

    By the way, you rock, so I'm awarding you with the "Versatile Blogger Award." Come pick it up @ my blog!

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  6. @Melissa Thank you so much for your kind compliments! :)

    @Matthew This is so embarassing, I've only seen this now and I'm so overdued in replying to comments. My apologies for that Matthew! Thank you so much for the award!

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