I always feel sorry for Jaycee Chan. You are the son of probably asia’s premier film star. Yet he can’t even be publically honest about your date of birth. You decide to follow in your Father’s footsteps, attempting to make it in the world of both cinema and music. Yet for some reason that really does not work out. Luckily, he has managed to star in one of this years big Hong Kong success stories, and I am going to add my own praise.
(Fiona Sit), a twenty-something couple. They seem to love each other, but have difficulties, leading to break-ups. Joe discovers a website that purports to magically bring you back together, if you enter the names of another couple you know – but it means they will break up. At the same time, Joe is given a DV camera by film director Barbara Wong (who is both the real director here and playing herself in the movie), to record his life.
So what we have is a film delivered in documentary style – lots of wobbly cameras, uncomfortable close ups, and unusual angles. This works well given the subject matter, as the film is trying to delve into real relationships. Joe is basically lazy, but he truly loves Flora. Flora on the other hand is an ambitious young girl, who works hard, and sees her future maybe somewhere else. She does seem to love Joe, but her head is turned by an erudite and charming Japanese artist she has to assist for work.
When the film works, it is on two levels. There are those painful, recognisable moments, that we have all suffered in our relationships with others. Those stupid arguments and misunderstandings. And of course those happy memories, which will always mean more to those involved than to an outsider. The film also has some lovely moments of comedy, usually involving Joe’s rather excitable and mullet owning friend Sunny (an initially annoying, but eventually rather fun Patrick Tang).
I have to admit, I struggled with the format a little – many scenes seem to be VERY inconsistent withe the documentary approach, and this was nagging at the base of my brain, even though I was enjoying the film. However, to be fair, the reveal in the final 20 minutes, whilst possibly a little too cute, put those feelings to rest.
Chan and Sit make an appealing couple (and rumour is of course they are/were the real deal), they pull off the happiness, the bickering, the sadness and the arguments. The Fiona Sit that annoyed and frustrated me in “La Comedie Humaine” is absent here – this is a much more realistic and well rounded portrayal
A few reviews have commented on the fact that the Break Up Club website is a little under explained, and disappears after the initial 20 minutes. Personally, I think the film is stronger for this, and I would like to view it as a more metaphorical device. The point is that when Joe goes back to it at the end of the film, he realises something, he has grown up, matured.
The film is sadly a little too long, and does drag a little in the middle 40 minutes or so, and honestly, I have seen the “girl-meets-someone-exciting-and-new-who-is-better-than-their-safe-and-predictable-boyfriend” idea played out maybe too many times recently. But as tropes go, it is not a bad one, and give the film makers something to hang some interesting character work on.
Don’t expect answers, or even a beginning, middle and end. Things are left unresolved, and whatever your feelings about the futures of the main characters, I personally did not feel cheated. This is how life is – in real life you rarely get to have the final credits roll. Highly Recommended