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Acclaimed Hong Kong director and industry veteran Ann Hui returns with “All About Love”, a film considerably lighter in tone than her last outing, the depressing, Tin Shui Wai-set “Night and Fog”. Needless to say, although the film’s premise does suggest light romantic comedy, with a script by author and screenwriter Yang Yee Shan (responsible for the hard hitting “Whispers and Moans” and “True Women for Sale”), it also tackles a number of serious societal concerns. The film is headlined by a couple of top acting talents in Sandra Ng (currently enjoying a career renaissance thanks to the likes of “Echoes of the Rainbow”) and 1990s pop star Vivian Chow (making her first film appearance for 14 years), with support from Eddie Cheung (“Election”) and William Chan (“Beauty on Duty!”).
The film revolves around two urbanite lesbians and former lovers, Macy (Sandra Ng) and Anita (Vivian Chow), who meet again at a pregnancy seminar after years apart. The attraction between the women is still strong, and they find themselves falling back in love, despite having had their fair share of ups and downs. The issue of the fathers of their respective babies rears its head, as the men in question make it clear that they want to be involved. Matters are further complicated when Anita finds herself discriminated against at work as a pregnant single mother, putting her budding relationship with Macy under even more strain.
The most pleasing aspect of “All About Love” is the way in which Hui and Yang manage to combine aspects of the romantic comedy and social conscience drama genres into an entertaining and thoughtful blend. Although the film may sound very much like an overt taboo challenging or issue heavy affair, it’s actually first and foremost a very humanistic and warm hearted piece. Whilst it does spend a great deal of time with its characters talking and discussing various key subjects, this is woven into the film quite naturally, and things never get heavy handed or preachy. Certainly, the question of its protagonists’ sexuality never really takes centre stage, with the main theme being of gender and family politics in modern Hong Kong. Even this is tackled with a pleasingly wide scope, covering the difficulties faced by both sexes and the complexities which can challenge relationships of all types, and the film is ultimately about commitment and unconventional families as much as anything else.
At the same time, the film is frequently very funny, thanks to Yang’s sharp and witty script, which shows a wonderfully observant sense of humour mixed with old fashioned farce. In general this balances well with the film’s more worthy aspects, and helps to give things a fun and flirty feel. The relationship between Macy and Anita progresses in a wholly believable manner, and though the film never really throws any truly threatening problems at them, it does keep the viewer interested as to how things will work out between them and the various other characters. Partly this is due to some excellent performances from the cast, with Sandra Ng and Vivian Chow both on great form, and with the male leads providing some effective comedy relief.
The film doesn’t always quite work out, and during the last act when things get more serious with the work discrimination case it feels a little strained, as Hui switches to a near-documentary approach which sits somewhat uncomfortably with the previously fluffy and commercial feel. Still, this doesn’t matter too much, and “All About Love” is on the whole very enjoyable, and a fine attempt to chronicle modern Hong Kong society and the concerns of everyday, recognisable people – something which is becoming all too rare. Hui and Yang work very well together, and more of the same would definitely be welcome alongside their more serious outings.
Ann Hui (director) / Yee Shan Yeung (screenplay)
CAST: Sandra Ng … Macy
Vivian Chow … Anita
Siu-Fai Cheung … Robert
William Chan Wai-Ting … Mike