Highly stylised by the recent Chinese trend of flashy urban edits with eye-popping vibrant visual palette and brightly-lit cinematography, there is a pretty good urban tale of romance and dilemma going underneath all the eye-candy. Interesting performance by Eason Chan and especially Rene Liu, they will draw you gradually and hook you on their screen presence. The best part is, you might find yourself wanting more of them when the credits roll!
Huo Caiguo is forced to keep his marriage a secret in order to get a new job as an assistant at a perfume company. As his CEO Mandy becomes more appreciative of him, their relationship starts to arouse the suspicions of his wife, Jingyi, who also discovers Caiguo has been lying about his marital status at work.
The inevitable happens when Caiguo and Mandy are on a business trip together, and Jingyi asks for a divorce. The heartbroken Caiguo buries himself in work and mixes a scent that becomes a bestseller. Jingyi sees the ads that say: “Let’s get married… it’s love’s antidote”. Will the new scent be the antidote they need to heal them and start afresh?
Patrick Kong is a writer-turned new director who has mostly dabbled in romantic comedies and is one of the better new directors to watch for in my opinion. His highly-stylised opening might induce reminiscence of the recent lacklustre effort "What Women Wants", but fortunately it packs some substance underneath all that style.
Despite that, the first third of the film starts off a little uncomfortably where you can't exactly tell where this film is headed. From the slightly misleading title, I was expecting some kinky tale of city-dwellers cheating behind the backs of their spouses/partners through the lifestyle integrated social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter (or Weibo in this case).
I was of course, proven wrong (but to my delight).
Eason may not seem much for quite a fair bit of this film, but he portrays the exact kind of man that the film wants to share with its audience. The Mr. Nice-to-spouse-dude-who-cannot-resist-fate-and-temptations required some amount of subtle demeanour before really showing us what's going on underneath that nice guy facade.
The true essence was found in Rene Liu's portrayal of Mandy, the boss of her nice assistant.
Akin to Eason, Rene didn't appear much until when her icy cold demeanour begins to go on a meltdown with her daily chemistry with Eason. With a husky alluring voice and cold stern stares, she almost resembles a veteran version of Zhou Xun, who also exudes similar traits albeit housing a lot more of her trademark quirkiness.
Rene Liu shows a lot of credible potential here, and I for one would love to see more of her.
A great contrast to Mandy's slow-warming personality is the bubbly and attractive spouse of Huo, Jingyi, played by Bai Bing. Quite a pleasant delight to the eyes, she proves to be more beyond her good looks as she does hold her own well enough to not let her presence escape limelight. Bai Bing feels comfortable in her role and almost convinces us that she is playing herself, although it does feel a little larger-than-life once in a while to subtly remind me of the scripted drama going on.
The chemistry between the three works, although there isn't much of that between Mandy and Jingyi depicted (that I'd like to see more of). But it's likely not to infuse too much sparks of fury into this film that ultimately intends to be a feel-good film for couples.
Mr & Mrs Single isn't just your routine romantic comedy as it does tackle certain relationship issues and woes that are common in our urbanscape. We know for sure that these are scripted within, but the cast allows them to surface so naturally that it doesn't feel oddly brought up for highlight.
The "late-returning husband who has to perform overtime" effect on his spouse and the gesture guessing game initiated by the wife's BFF to determine the husband's fidelity seem to be spot on as I'm sure many of you can relate to them.
Not only is this a feel-good film with a dosage of hilarity, it makes a good film of reference that couples can relate to amidst all the optimistic aesthetics (that I can't help but feel that almost every shot is well-planned and determined to be of pristine quality to impress) that is coated all over this film. A must for couples and those in curiosity of today's love.
Feels good to your eyes, feels good to your heart.