Director: Peter Chan (2005)
After telling nuanced, heartwarming love stories like Comrades, Almost a Love Story and Alan & Eric: Between Hello and Goodbye, Hong Kong director Peter Chan continues his quest for love in Perhaps Love—a Chinese-language, Broadway style musical film.
Director Peter Chan plots the film with a mix of Mandarin pop songs, Broadway dances numbers, and a love triangle.
About the Film
The story itself is simple. With its backdrop in present-day Shanghai, a female film star Sun Na (Zhou Xun) runs into her ex-lover, Lin Jiandong (Takeshi Kaneshiro), also a famous actor on a movie set in a circus troupe. But, the actress is now together with the director Nie Wen (Jacky Cheung). Lin Jiandong harbors mixed love and hatred for Sun Na, and plots to take revenge to her for ten years of waiting after she left him to chase her dream of being a star.
The three characters struggling in the circus troupe movie happened to suffer the same triangle in real life.
The easy-touching scenes are romance pieces which happen between Sun Na and Lin Jiandong in Beijing, when Sun was a girl with no money, making a living by performing erotic dancing in the Sanlitun bar street area, and Lin was a poor student in film academy.
Especially under the lens of photographer Christopher Doyle, scenes are tender and sensitive, such as the hug on the ice along the moat, the young couples enjoying a hot pot in her dark but cozy basement apartment, and the street restaurant with mist-covered window.
Other scenes like Lin Jiandong sinking himself in a swimming pool and his teardrop falling under the water also generate lots of tears for women audiences.
Dance and Music
Director Peter Chan invites celebrated Bollywood choreographer and dancer Farah Khan to design the Broadway-style dance numbers set in Old Shanghai in the movie. And, the result turns out to be quite good.
Dancers including the star - wanna-be Sun Na - show off sexy thighs wrapped by tight dresses with long slits and cheap gold-sequined costumes, singing sarcastic and relentless stage songs at Shizi Crossroad, a kind of red-light district.
More impressive parts of the musical take placed in the carnival-like circus troupe performance.
Perhaps it cannot compete with Moulin Rouge or Singing in The Rain; but still, it is good enough to boast as one of the most dazzling and extravagant musical movies in Chinese film history.
Jacky Cheung's voice also deserves much credit. He is the only professional and veteran singer in the music industry for years to have four leading screen roles and his own stage musical Snow Wolf Lake proved to be a great success.
This time, Cheung impresses his audiences with musical songs in Broadway-style. The other three lead roles also give all their best and do not disappoint audiences at all.
All About Love—The One Besides You Is the Best One
After seeing the film, audiences are likely to have questions like just what the film's name Perhaps Love exactly means and which one the lead actress actually choose at the end.
That's what Peter Chan wants to express to you or make you think about.
How much Love weighs in your heart? What is true love? Whether it is good or not to be indulged much in relationships? You are supposed to find out answers in the film itself.
Peter Chan expressed that the relationship between director Nie Wen and Sun Na is not broken or has any problem. Their relationship, based on benefit, and showed the worst side to each other and they lived together for so many years. The one besides you is the best one.
While, for the role of Lin Jiandong, Chan said that he was a young adult who over-indulged memory, which did not exist now. For the ending, Chan said that he does not have any preference. There are many possibilities to happen between the three roles, which leaves audience more space to wonder. What really matters is that after they experienced this, they are released from the trio relationship.
Zhou Xun (Sun Na)
Almost all critics gives this actress's performance positive or even high appraisal.
Her excellent delivery of the role almost overwhelms the other two male stars.
She depicts a girl who met a Hong Kong boy and used to be in love with him, but left him to chase her dream of being a star. She has to erase her memory to be saved or escaped from self-blame.
This is a role that deserves no forgiveness. With Zhou Xun's performance, audiences just can't hate her but instead, feel more sympathy for the role.
Many people think that it is because that Zhou Xun has has a similar real-life experience in her career with the role of Sun Na in the movie. However, Zhou Xun denied, saying that she is totally different with the role of Sun Na. Sun is a kind of person who is willing to give up love for career, but she says she is just the opposite.
She acknowledged that it is the most difficult film among all her films, yet she really enjoyed it.
Also, Zhou surprises with a simple, innocent rendition of the folksy Outside.
Takeshi Kaneshiro (Lin Jiandong)
Chinese-Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro's low key self-promotion and his good delivery of alienated, introverted roles has gained him mysterious charm.
He depicts a man who is over indulged in memory, who has a craze for her ex-girlfriend which leads to hatred and revenge, and who also has a penchant for swimming fully clothed and releasing a teardrop under the water. His character repels himself to fall asleep at night and types messages repeatedly into his computer as well as recording his words to tapes for ten year, wishing his girl to come back.
His voice perhaps is a far cry from Jacky Cheung, but his sincerity and characteristics shine through nonetheless.
(CRI December 12, 2005)