Its not only fantasy and action films from HK
in which the viewer sometimes has to suspend their belief a bit but even
sometimes in a simple romantic comedy exploring love in modern day HK.
The basic foundation of this film is a bit ridiculous as it is about three
modern women who are roommates looking for love and sex and not necessarily
in that order.
But what is so absurd is the chances of this threesome
actually being friends and roommates. Chingmy Yau plays an engaged woman
just returned from France and working at a sex clinic giving out advice
on birth control and keeping the hubby sexually stimulated. If you look
like Chingmy of course that is not a big problem! Another roommate is played
by Anita Lee an insurance salesperson who goes through men like quarters
at a slot machine. Only one night is her motto and hopefully even less
than that! And the final roommate Lily Chung is also in the sex field
but somewhat differently as she spends much of it on her back! She
is a prostitute and seems quite happy with her work. Hey, how many jobs
do you get to lie down on? Yes- just your typical three single girls in
the big city almost reminded me of Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda!
There are a number of amusing incidents for
the first half of the film and though it is as fluffy as a down pillow
it is quite watchable. Chingmy looks both extremely cute and lovely here
and there are a number of very nice close-ups of her face. Lily Chung
is quite adorable as a muddled-headed girl with good business instincts.
From her filmography it appears that she has been primarily in Cat III
films and I want to follow-up on a few of those. Anita Lee is also very
attractive and has a few spicy scenes.
You know it is only a matter of time though before
some fellows show up for the girls to get serious about and when that happens
the film starts to fizzle a bit. The girls were a lot more funny before
they fell in love. Chingmy starts to forget about that fellow in France
and moons over Mark Cheng who is a triad member every girls dream.
Ya forget about that good looking guy in France with all the money and
instead run after a low level triad member who is in hiding for fear for
his life! But he is nice to his mother and thats what counts! Lily gets
involved with Lawrence Cheng doing his typical nerdish role who is
shocked to find out at some point that she is not a secretary. Oh, did
I mention he is not too bright either but it is amazing what a man will
forgive if a woman is well endowed! And Anita meets fashion designer Sunny
Chan and decides that one nighters are no longer fashionable what a woman
will sacrifice for nice clothes!
All in all this is a cute little film with a serious
message fooling around and being a prostitute is fun for a while but
sooner or later traditional values will draw you women back to being
a one man woman. Remember that sage advice girls! Just kidding.
My rating for this film: 7.0
Reviewed by YTSL
Although it starts off with Chingmy Yau's character
-- a marriage counselor often respectfully referred to as Miss Chung --
making some tart yet surely quite "spot on" comments regarding the contemporary
state of gender relations and perceptions in Hong Kong, movies don't really
come much fluffier than this romantic comedy. A measure of how silly
and light-hearted is THE MODERN LOVE -- as Brian has pointed out in his
review -- can be seen in the extremely high improbability of real life
characters like the three female protagonists happily sharing an apartment
and going out together for nights on the town. Ditto with regards
to their potential Mr. Rights coming in the respective forms of:
A filial triad member who remains the apple of his mother's eye; an uptight
millionaire who needs to be taught how to "wa-ha-ha" laugh; and a young
man with a roving eye. And then there's the rather conventional conclusion
to this ultimately charming and cute rather than risqué movie about
I'm not sure I can adequately explain why this
1994 offering succeeded in putting this (re)viewer in such a good, tolerant
and fun(ny) mood that she was filled with mirth rather than irritated by
this offering's fractured and often nonsensical English subtitles (If my
memory serves me right, the male reproductive organ was at one point referred
to as a "ball stick"! Plus there's the attempted translation and
consequent misspelling of a particular word as "concuspicent"!!).
Something else to factor in is my willingness to overlook, rather than
feel put-off by, the prostitute character's initials (and nickname) being
very similar to mine (Hey, if Chingmy Yau is willing to lend her Chinese
name of Suk Ching to the movie's nerdy male character...)!
Perhaps it's because it does seem that the film's
cast notably Chingmy Yau, Lily Chung and Anita Lee -- seem to exude such
playful and joyful vibes. What I do feel is that a production that
could have turned out to be rather lame didn't. While not a major
laugh-o-rama, it does have segments that made me smile fairly broadly.
I think particularly here of a couple of scenes -- strangely reminiscent
of one in "Peking Opera Blues" when the three heroines take momentary pleasure
in being in each other's female company -- which feel even more innocent
than that in the 1986 dramatic work; even though, in them, this triumvirate
of improbable friends cum apartment-mates are discussing such as what orgasms
feel like for them!
This buoyant impish quality also is present in
the depictions of the candid group counseling sessions at the Family Planning
center that Chingmy Yau's character leads and supervises. For example,
in one involving couples, the (female) viewer is bound to smile with her
after she asks who in the room has had premarital sex and the females of
the pairs only acknowledge doing so, and with some embarrassment and chagrin
at their fiancés, after the males happily do so. And in another,
this time for married women only, knowing amusement should just as surely
come out of Miss Chung's suggestions for enjoyable sex with husbands but
also responses to them from the wives.
While one really ought not to read too much
into or from movies (not least this one!), I can't help but think -- based
on such scenes that maybe why THE MODERN LOVE can be enjoyable for women
as well as men, albeit for different reasons, is that it does seem to celebrate
as well as show female camaraderie (in a cheerful way that is rarely seen
in Hollywood films; I'm not taking a pot shot here, just stating what I
consider to be a fact) as well as male-female bonding which is satisfactory
for all involved in them. For the most part though, I do realize
that THE MODERN LOVE is one refreshingly jaunty work that should pleasantly
amuse those viewers -- of whichever gender -- who take it with the pinch
of salt and slice of humor that it deserves.
My rating for the film: 7.