Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Movie Review: 非诚勿扰

非诚勿扰 2 so caught my attention that I checked the prequel from the library. Sequels are rarely better than the original, so if I liked the second movie, 非诚勿扰 should have been even more impressive, right?

The opening sequence was indeed funny, but not in the way the sequel was. Then the initial half of the movie degenerates into a sequence of "in search of the right woman" dating scenes. While these are entertaining enough, and even cleverly written (there's one scene where a friend introduces our lead actor to a recently widowed woman that just had us giggling), at this point we're introduced to the lead actress.

I was quite puzzled as to why I didn't like the movie as much, but I think I know why now. The protagonist is extremely smart and observant: he sees what's wrong with his leading lady right away, and walks out on her multiple times. Then we are led to believe that he's willing to take a trip to Hokkaido, treats her cruelly, and then becomes devoted to her? Nothing adds up. Ok, human beings don't always add up, but as someone once said, the difference between real life and fiction is that I expect some consistency from fiction. One theory could be that the sequel had a larger budget than this movie, and hence the sight-jokes could be better implemented. Thinking over the script though, I don't see how a bigger budget would have made this movie better.

Is the movie worth watching? Yes. It's still better than expected for a romantic comedy. But the sequel was definitely much more impressive in terms of writing. The photography is nice, but it's quite clear that the director did not make full use of Hokkaido's gorgeous scenery, which properly belonged to the characters. It's just that if I had watched this movie first I probably would have waited to watch 非诚勿扰 2 on DVD rather than seeing it in the theater, and that would have been a loss. Nevertheless, recommended.
[Note: I watched this movie with only Chinese subtitles turned on, so I can't speak to the quality of the English subtitles. One of the coolest things about the movie is that it makes no compromises about languages. The Japanese people speak Japanese, the Chinese people speak Chinese, and the one non-Asian with speaking parts speaks in both English and Japanese. Hence turning on subtitles is useful even if you are fluent with Mandarin.]
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