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I Love You? I Love You!

I Love You
Director: Zhang Yuan (2002)

Equipped with a title so simplistically banal it's not even funny anymore, this Zhang Yuan production/direction defies preconceptions and pulls off what many film critics are already hailing as the best love story of the year. While this may be an exaggeration, I Love You certainly doesn't comply with typical love movie paradigms. Instead of the predictable, here's a movie-load of sarcasm and despair lacking a definite happy end.

Spring Subway veteran Xu Jinglei shows her magnificent colors as a totally neurotic young nurse whose fiancé dies in a ridiculous diving accident (he jumped into an empty pool); Xu then goes after his friend.

Gone is the model citizen Xu of Spring Subway; here, she's the victim of mood swings, hysterics, and bouts of deadly rage that alternate with periods of angelic nicety.

Not that her counterpart deserves much better. Played by Tong Dawei, he's a veritable ball of wracked nerves waiting to explode on the nearest target. A stereotypical passive-aggressive individual, this fellow will either intrigue or annoy you right off the bat. That said, this is probably what I Love You's screenwriters intended.

Mostly viewers witness the couple's ceaseless fights, which gradually grow ever more bitter and venomous. There are moments of euphoric, almost drugged, tranquility, yet these don't last long before either one throws a tantrum again.

I Love You conducts itself almost like a lab experiment, largely scrutinizing the two in their cramped environment, sinking deeper and deeper into cabin fever with a claustrophobic air that fans of suspense may greatly appreciate.

An interestingly morbid take on matters of the heart gives a reason to watch, but otherwise I Love You doesn't contain too many other unique traits story-wise. The main highlight is Xu's brilliant performance, deserving of all the praise she can get, equally threatening and hilarious.

(cityweekend.com.cn January 19, 2004)


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