Love Actually … Sucks!

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Back again to Hong Kong, and something a little outside my normal parameters.  This time I am going to have a little look at a film by Danny Cheng Wan-Cheung a.k.a Scud, who is a rather unique film maker, in the sense he covers taboo subjects in both terms of story and what he displays visually.  This does make the film not suitable for all palettes, but let us see if there is anything of interest for my readership here.

Love Actually … Sucks!” takes a number of stories ripped straight from either headlines or the Internet and weaves them together, linking the various strands via shared characters, although each tale totally sits on its own.  We open with a Wedding Feast where all our protagonists are in attendance as guests, only to be shocked by the content of the “how the couple met” video display.  We then follow stories such as:

  • A near mute Mountain Climber who loses his girlfriend to a Policeman, and deals with rejection in a rather horrific manner
  • A Brother and Sister who embark on an incestuous relationship
  • An Artist who becomes obsessed with a life model he meets at the Gym
  • A Dance Teacher who not only has a girlfriend who seems more interested in her Dogs than him, but is aggressively pursued by an older woman.
  • A Lesbian couple, where the Policewoman half has to constantly cover up for her Role Playing Partner.

Of course pretty much all of these relationships are doomed, and whilst only one ends in death, most of the others end up in Court.

Technically, the film is very interesting.  Scud employs Herman Yau as the cinematographer, so the film is quite beautifully shot, and it manages to keep the viewer interested visually.  It is pretty graphic in terms of the sexual content – there is a lot of nudity (both male and female), a fair bit of simulated sex (including one of the great taboos of cinema, the erect penis), plus the aforementioned incest.  If that has not put you off, then on a purely visual level, the film is a success.  Indeed, the opening sequence at the Wedding, which is re-examined over the final credits is rather marvellous.

The problem is, despite the film having love in the title, it is really about Obsession and to some extent Lust, which can be connected to Love, most of the characters on display are really rather vacuous people that don’t seem to exist as personalities outside of their sex lives.  And seeing lots of boobs and bums and genitals of various good looking, well sculpted people in the shower doesn’t really make up for the overall lack of depth.  In fact, reading the LoveHKFilm review, I may well have lost out by not seeing the censored cinema release which seemed to be a bit smarter and knowing because of the need to self censor.

Some of the problem is that there are maybe one or two stories too many.  This means that not only do some simply not get enough screen time (such as the incest and lesbian stories – the former actually goes missing for nigh on an hour of the 90 minute running time), but that others just run out of steam and are wrapped up in a wholly unsatisfactory manner.  The story of the Dance Teacher is the one which suffers most here – there is actually enough potential story for a film of its own, but most key events are spoken about rather than shown, and the potential dramatic conclusion happens off-screen.  To put together a film like this, with interconnected characters is a difficult task at the best of times, but without a central thread or characters that you actually care about, then it becomes an exercise in technique, rather than a smart way of telling multiple stories.

There are two stories which do work well.  The story of the Mountaineer who loses his girlfriend could possibly have stood up to being a film in its own right – containing the best single scene where he asks his girlfriend to marry him via text message even though they are laying in bed together.  The story of the lesbian couple is also a lot of fun, not only providing the tone-lightening humour, but actually a sense of two people truly being in love despite the obvious mental issues that one of the partners has.  It is also telling that whilst they also end up having sex in a shower, that in their case it is almost completely obscured, showing that it is something private and deep between two caring individuals.

Sadly though, the film at the end of the day, pretty as it is, failed to connect with me.  If you want, there is some good stuff to be found here, but the overall clumsiness of the execution, and the coldness of the characters means this one is just on the Not Recommended list.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nekoneko says:

    It does sound a bit of a mess…

    I've always felt that these multiple story anthologies always run the risk of trying to cram in just too many plot-lines to let any of them develop and resolve themselves satisfactorily. Sounds like that's what happened here.

    Like

  2. ElPeevio says:

    Yeah, that is part of the problem – there is a whole lot of set up, and very litlle satisfactory development and conclusion – most stories have an end, but I can't help feeling we missed out on the journey. The other issue is that it is pretty cold and lacking any heart at all. I appreciate the craft, but just a little too cynical for me.

    Like

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