EVEN if your interest in movies doesn’t lean towards the indie genre, you’d have probably come across Chinese writer-turned-filmmaker Zhang Jia Jia.
As a writer, Zhang gained widespread recognition in Wuershan’s The Butcher, The Chef And The Swordsman, and later in Zhang Yibai’s I Belonged To You. As a director, Zhang’s vision and style is comparable to that of Wes Anderson — his particular interest in using bright colours in setting the mood as well as utilising lots of wide angled shots.
This movie has all the offbeat humour as seen in The Butcher, The Chef And The Swordsman, and is easily one of the year’s most creative films.
Based loosely on his book Passing From Your World, this movie sees two friends helping people with their relationship problems.
Set in the present time, it stars Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Chen Mo, a skilled “navigator” in the troubled world of romance. Together with his good friend Guan Chun (Takeshi Kaneshiro), Chen Mo open a bar where customers go to share their relationship problems. Although the way they deal with the problems seem sloppy at first, their results are often first-rate.
Meanwhile, Xiao Yu (Angelababy) hires them to help her idol, troubled singer Ma Li (Eason Chan), when the latter is ditched by his materialistic girlfriend Jiang Jie (Lynn Hung). Also, Guan Chun’s long-lost girlfriend Mao Mao (Sandrine Pinna) suddenly re-surfaces after going off the radar for a decade, with no recollection of her past.
In the course of helping others solve their problems, Chen Mo and Guan Chun have to face up to their own pain, which eventually sets them off on a journey of self-discovery.
The best thing about See You Tomorrow is the way Zhang executes his story. Defying the usual storytelling method, Zhang takes a certain wacky and absurd situation and plays it for something more rewarding at the end.
For example, when Mao Mao suddenly reappears, the usual melodramatic scene is substituted with a wacky Hokkien song battle between Guan Chun and herself instead (perhaps being half Japanese, Kaneshiro’s character can be seen singing in an exaggerated manner, like one of those Kabuki actors).
The film takes on the theme of relationship in a funny, if not quirky way. It successfully mixes humour with emotions and social commentary for effect. All the characters are richly-detailed and the psychological effects that they go through make them somewhat relatable.
At some point, it can get a little confusing. This happens with certain unnecessary bits thrown into the plot, such as when Xiao Yu dares Zhang Jie in a game known as Golf Bar, in which the players engage in drinking games in different bars.
But a number of subplots involving the other characters also help keep the film going, in particular, the flashback involving Ma Li’s younger self, which is played by Luhan, a former member of popular South Korean pop group Exo. The cast’s performance is commendable.
Takeshi and Leung have worked on a few films together including Chungking Express, Confession Of Pain and Red Cliff. Takeshi stands out and delivers most of the entertaining performances in the film.
The film also sees a reunion between Leung and internationally renowned film director Wong Kar-Wai, who also writes and produces the film. The two had worked together in The Grandmaster.
Elsewhere, Taiwanese-French actress Sandrine Pinna, who is no stranger to Taiwanese TV, gives a hilarious performance as Mao Mao. Whenever her bossy yet vulnerable character appears, the film seems to get livelier. The onscreen chemistry between Sandrine and Takeshi is also perfect and makes the film a delight to watch.
At 128 minutes, the film’s lengthy runtime is made bearable with well-timed laughs and good scenes of Guan Chun trying to help his girlfriend remember their past together.
Some choppy editing issues aside, See You Tomorrow is a fun affair and the film works on many different levels, providing an alternate take on the romantic comedy.
SEE YOU TOMORROW (MANDARIN/CANTONESE)
Directed by Zhang Jia Jia
Starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Angelababy, Eason Chan, Lynn Hung, Sandrine Pinna
Duration 128 minutes