This one is just magical.
When talking about “Lovers Concerto” I spoke my love of filmmakers ability to pull off magic tricks on the screen. This movie manages to do that, not once but twice.
This film was produced, written and directed (and starring) by Jay Chou. Now Jay Chou is one of those annoying people who seems to be brilliant at everything he tries his hand at. Oh and he is a massive music star as well. And yes I am jealous!
Now I put the green eyes away. What he has created here is something quite wonderful. This is a movie that pretends to be one thing, hints at maybe being another, and turns out to be something else entirely.
The story? “Secret” is a story of a young man (Chou) who joins a prestigious arts college, to further study music (specifically the piano). He is set up early on with a pretty young fellow student, Sky (Alice Tseng), but his eye is taken by a more etheral girl, Rain (Lun-mei Kwai).
What is interesting is that things are quite obviously not quite right. Rain is often absent (we know she has asthma), and seems not to interact with the rest of her classmates very much.
So the viewer starts to think that there is one of two things going on here. Either we are going to get a “Terminal Beauty” story, or that this is another “Ghost Girl”. Or maybe a mix of the two.
And then the film unravels and we find out it is something quite different.
And then it unravels again.
And what we end up is a time travel story. But in a very closed and specific way – as all good time travel stories should be. Remember – everything you need to know is there – but you need to watch the movie without preconceptions of how Time Travel should work.
As befitting something written/directed/produced by a music star, the soundtrack is amazing. It mixes classical music with more modern offerings (and something less modern also), in a wonderful way. The music is always there, but never overbearing, always adding to and complimenting the story. The scene with the piano dual is just fantastic cinema.
The Special effects are also stunning. There are only three obvious SFX shots, and all are done with award-winning aplomb.
The acting is magnificent – especially the great Antony Wong as the Father, and Lun-mei Kwai is just wonderful. The only weak link is Jay Chou himself – he is quite wooden in comparison – but he does everything else marvellously.
Do I have any complaints? Just the one – the film is maybe 10 minutes too short. I would have liked to have seen just a little more back story on the main character’s life, and for the reveals to have come just a tiny bit earlier. There are a couple of things which seem to have been written out (like why the piano dual took place, and how the Janitor became disabled in the 30 years of the story).
Possibly the film is a little naughty – we are reshown scenes explaining events that are not quite as we saw them originally (although to be fair sometimes we did not get to see things to their conclusion).
What elevates this film is its Timeless quality. It does not matter if this story is being told in 2008, 1998 or 1798. It is just a brilliantly conceived piece of magic.
Easily one of the best 5 films I will put on this list.