Maggie Cheung gives one of her most complex and
interesting performances here but unfortunately in a film that is eventually
not very compelling or believable. There are scenes and moments and snapshots
that are absolutely terrific and heartfelt, but overall much of it simply
does not hang together. Though the film covers a lot of ground and is
in fact too unfocused at times at the core of the film lies a love story.
But it is the love story that never clicks for me I never believe in
it and never really care about its outcome.
Maggie is an insurance salesperson and a very
good one as she has an ability to find the chink in anyones emotional
armor whether it be their ego or their children. She leaves her upscale
boyfriend when he proposes marriage and assumes that she will give up
her career and become a housewife. She seems to have no real need for men
though and later at one point she is told that she should give up smoking
and she replies A cigarette is more reliable than a man. I can
feel it in my hand. I can smell it. When I am lonely it will dance with
me. It sounds corny but Maggie manages to give the scene an emotional
charge and depth.
While making a sales pitch one afternoon, a triad
gang leader Roy Cheung comes over and advises Maggie not to make the
sale because her potential client may soon be dead and the company will
have to pay out. In a fury Maggie demands compensation for her lost sale
and Roy tells her he will buy a policy instead and makes her the beneficiary.
It appears that she may quickly collect as he is jumped by some other triads
and badly wounded.
This is where the film starts stretching our believability
a bit. He stumbles into her get away cab but she wants nothing to do with
him. The driver though says Maggie has to take him with her or she will
be implicated in his death. Maggie buys this, takes him to her apartment
and then instead of calling the police or the hospital (due to her
fear of being accused of stabbing him!) she calls her ex-boyfriend to stitch
him up. He wants to call the cops but she tells him that she will accuse
him of trying to rape her and then stabbing her lover. He believes her.
Would two seemingly intelligent people act this way?
Later Maggie gets ill and Roy goes all mushy
and sensitive by nursing her back to health and cooking pork chops and
rice for her. This goes on for days and all I could think of was is
this new triad of the 90s the caring triad sort of like the new compassionate
Republicans. And isnt there triad business Roy should be attending to
rather than doting on a very ungrateful Maggie Cheung? Needless to say
love blooms like a red red rose but I never believe it even with both
actors giving excellent performances. Maggie absolutely covers the gambit
of emotions in this film and she is just very real at portraying all
In a small role that actually serves little
purpose in the film Veronica Yip is also terrific. She plays a friend
of Maggies who has a weakness for drink and bad relationships. Maggie says
to her You are like a turbo engine one touch and you are ready to
go. At one point in the film she is in a bar drinking too much flirting
unsuccessfully with Michael Wong (in a cameo) and she goes by the piano
player and sings a torch song that defines sexual yearning and loneliness.
It is a great little scene and I wish that she had been in the film to
a greater extent.
I just found myself having no patience for a love
story that felt very contrived but very much enjoyed the individual performances
from Maggie, Roy and Veronica.