I am not a fan of romantic comedies. The genre as a whole as it stands at the moment offers no intelligence or excitement, and says absolutely nothing to me about my life. The main flaw with most, aside from being naturally predictable and bland, is that they are neither romantic or funny. With any genre of course there are exceptions- Amelie, Enchanted and to a lesser extent Heartbreakers are of recent note. Those films were exceptions though, because they offered something exceptional: Audrey Tautou flawlessly charming performance in Amelie; lots of Disney in-jokes in Enchanted; a darker side in Heartbreakers. Shanghai Kiss manages to stand above the mire too- the exceptions being Ken Leung and the fact that the film shifts between LA and China. For me, being a fan Chinese film this came as a plus- it gives a refreshing break from the usuall saccharine streets of the US. Ken Leung is an actor i could, and do watch for hours, thanks to Lost and Saw.
The film doesn’t stray too far outside the rom-com realms of normality- the characters are typical, and the plot and situation are not too surprising. Leung’s character is bored with life in LA, and when a tragic event calls him back to his homeland, he begins a typical journey of self discovery, questioning what and who he wants. His main love interests are- LA: the usual pretty, wholesome teenage blonde American stereotype, and Shanghai: the usual mysterious, exotic Asian type who brings his life into doubt. Although these are typical characters, the performances are strong enough not to make them bland or annoying. Some of the cinematography is stunning and offers something different for the genre, and although it is slow moving with few big laughs, and doesn’t at any point try to impress any laboured humour on you; the speed of the film if anything reflects Leung’s meandering life.
Overall, not too bad as romantic comedies go, with some good performances and ideas, but perhaps still to slow, soft, and light for the taste of some people.
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts on the movie- have you seen it?