‘Beijing Love Story’ is almost like 5 chick flicks in 2 hours
The film comprises 5 stories within the same time frame and place, about middle class to upper class couples of different generations, with the characters unnecessarily linked together to depict one full circle of romance in life, one Beijing Love Story. Despite its seemingly unique concept, the plot of most of the segments are too formulaic and cheesy. Simply put, the film’s basically a compilation of several cliches of the genre.
The only segment that I really got a kick out of is the one that features the two veteran Hong Kong actors – Carina Lau and Tony Leung Chiu Wai. It’s obvious that the two of them were specifically cast to attract audience who’re more familiar with Hong Kong movies (like myself, actually). But nonetheless, it’s fun to see these two oldies in a role-playing affair and then going at each other in an intense game of truth or dare. I also liked how the different stories are arranged, it starts off with young adults, and then ends with the innocent puppy love between two school kids and the senior citizen couple who’re closer to the end of their lives.
Although the film does put up questions and challenges in the topic of faithful love relationships, I find it difficult to relate or to really enjoy the other 4 stories, which are more like typical romance dramas and fairy tales to entertain female audiences, making a big fuss about secret affairs and “cheating” as usual, as though only guys can be disloyal and unfaithful, and only the girls should decide when their man can have another woman. They were just pretty boring and one-dimensional to me, I’d have to say. It only tells me that Chen Sicheng (the actor, director and writer of the film) has limited creativity and a general point of view in this topic, with nothing groundbreaking or perspective-changing to offer.
I also would like to emphasise just how much I disliked the first story of the film. [SPOILER ALERT!] It’s kicks off with Chen Feng (Chen Sicheng) opening with a brief prologue narration while he gets hit by a vehicle when crossing the road to chase his girl Shen Yan (Tong Liya) and then flashes back to earlier days where he first met her at a club that’s unrealistically filled with extremely hot and available sexy ladies. The beautiful Shen Yan seems to be dealing a breakup with her wealthy ex-boyfriend who wants her back, reluctantly uses Chen Feng to excuse herself and then falls in love with him after spending some time together at a carnival theme park on that very same night (a 24-hour carnival theme park?) and lets him take her back to his place for some unprotected sex (yeah, right). She gets knocked up and agrees to marry him despite obviously unable to provide them a good life with his poor career. Predictably, the rich ex-boyfriend tries to win her back and even offers to buy her a house and accept the child as his own, but of course, she declines in the most cliched fashion at the end where Chen Feng is supposed to get hit on the road, but somehow history has changed…? Terrible start to the movie, seriously.
What I would’ve named the film: “Typical Chinese Love StorIES”
Censorship in Malaysia: For the media screening, only the sex scene is noticeably skipped.
Second opinion: My girlfriend said that it didn’t impress her but it’s sweet to watch during “Valentine’s season”. I know she liked the kids segment the most.
Verdict: Not that it’s intolerable, but it should’ve been released for Chinese New Year or Valentine’s Day. It would’ve been more fittingly enjoyable. But knowing most girls, they’d probably like it anyway.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Genre: Romance drama
Running Time: 122 minutes
Director-writer: Chen Sicheng
Cast: Carina Lau, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Chen Sicheng, Tong Liya, Yu Nan
Malaysia Release Date: February 19th 2013
Local Distributor: GSC Movies
Studios: (no info)