Though a Hong Kong comedy about breast cancer conjures up all manner of images of bad taste humour, “2 Become 1” is actually a fairly level headed attempt to mix romance and ‘issue’ drama. Despite these initial reservations, this bright and breezy approach at least makes for a change from the usual heavy handed Hollywood ‘disease of the week’ type film which tend to obsess over scenes of lead characters, usually played by Meryl Streep, losing their hair. Of course, this is not to say that “2 Become 1” is actually a good film, as aside from its potentially novel manner of dealing with the subject, it is utterly conventional in every other respect, filled with the usual mixture of eye-rolling comedy and tacky tugs at the heartstrings.
The plot follows the oddly named Bingo (Miriam Yeung, recently in “Dumplings”), a thirty year old advertising executive who is hard headed, but as cinematic tradition demands, is also prone to comedy pratfalls. One night when out with her shrill friends, she meets V (Richie Ren, “Breaking News”), a mysterious charmer, and the two end up going home together, though things don’t turn out quite as expected after he finds a lump on her breast. Diagnosed with breast cancer, Bingo tries to get on with her daily routine, gradually coming to realise that she now has to deal not only with the usual work and romantic complications, but with making the most important decision of her life.
There is no reason why comedy can’t be used to raise awareness of such an important topic as breast cancer, and thankfully “2 Become 1” does make an effort to treat the disease in a serious manner, promoting self performed check ups and going some way to genuinely tackle some of the societal stigmas associated with it. Unfortunately, while some of the surrounding laughs are reasonably effective, the majority fall into the cliché of the chick flick subgenre, revolving around the requisite, limp wristed gay friend who joins in the various girly activities.
There is certainly the grain of a genuinely moving story here, though unfortunately, things give way to cheap sentiment all too often, made all the worse by the inclusion of some truly nauseating pop songs by Justin Lo, whose absolutely unnecessary inclusion in the plot is blatantly for this purpose alone. Similarly, although by trying to give a positive message and not treating the protagonist as a victim, for which it does score some points, the film diverts needlessly into far too many subplots, most of which show her attempting to help other people who the viewer neither knows nor cares about. Bingo is the only real character in the film, with the majority of the cast simply on hand to provide support as lazily written stereotypes in gag roles, none of which works, and at times seem to have been simply pasted in from another film.
Although Bingo is a reasonably well fleshed out character, much of her behaviour is inconsistent and seems to have been written around set pieces, such as some ill-advised comedy suicide attempt scenes. Miriam Yeung does her best with the part, and turns in a half decent performance, but she simply does not have enough to work with in a role which demands far more emotional depth. The same sadly cannot be said for Ren, who spends most of the film grinning inanely or with an expression of exaggerated surprise on his face, frequently squealing ‘Ok, yeah!’ in English in a manner which verges on high camp. This does little for the romance aspect of the film, as his character seems far more interested in getting together with Bingo’s gay friend, though it does provide some unintentional hilarity.
To be fair, there is nothing actually wrong with “2 Become 1”, although it is a shame to see an important topic like breast cancer tackled with such a distinct lack of ambition. Though light hearted romance may not be a bad medium to convey a message of self-awareness and acceptance, it is hard to see “2 Become 1” as anything other than a reasonable time filler which offers a handful of laughs amongst the cliché.
Wing-cheong Law (director) / Ivy Ho (screenplay), Xixi (novel)
CAST: Justin Lo …. Sing
Richie Ren …. V
Miriam Yeung …. Bingo