Love in Garden Street (2002) Movie Review

All moviegoers know that Movie Coincidences (that is, the type of convenient coincidence that can only happen in movies) is a fact of moviegoing life. On rare occasions, your average moviegoer will be generous enough to accept one, sometimes even two, big Movie Coincidences. But if your movie is built on Movie Coincidences, as “Love in Garden Street” seems to be, then it gets to be a bit ridiculous.

The first big Movie Coincidence occurs when 3 single friends Rachel, Sharon, and Sherming discover they are all dating the same man. The second big Movie Coincidence rears its improbable head when Sherming and Sharon discover they are, yet again, dating the same man (but not the same man that all 3 were sharing previously). Movie Coincidence number three occurs toward the end, when one of the friends sleeps with her friend’s boyfriend and the wronged friend comes home to discover the betrayal.

Along the way, throw in about another dozen or so smaller Movie Coincidences, and you have a movie just bursting at the seams with events and situations only possible in sappy Romance movies. “Garden Street” is, in a nutshell, an 80-minute soap opera, complete with melodramatic confrontations and gushy lovey dovey, er, stuff. Which aren’t necessarily bad things, especially if you happen to like that type of inconsequential sappy stuff. (For the record, I don’t care for them.)

At this point I must apologize because I have no idea who is playing what character. I can only guess that with Hong Kong filmmaker’s penchant for naming characters after the actor’s actual American name, that Rachel Lee plays, er, Rachel. The other two friends — I am clueless. Not that it matters very much, since despite the 3 women’s individual jobs and ambitions — one wants to own a pet shop, another wants to be a movie star, and the third dreams of owning her own advertising agency — their personalities are superficial, at best.

Visually speaking, “Garden Street” doesn’t look like a movie shot on film. If I had to guess, I would say it was shot on a digital camera, which may be why the film’s primary colors stand out so much. Or maybe just a high-quality super VHS. Director Law Wai Tak makes the movie look like a music video for a sappy love song. In fact, the movie is doused with sappy music from beginning to end. The other thing that convinces me “Garden Street” was shot on digital cam is the presence of on-location sync sound, which is an anomaly with Hong Kong films. Even now, in 2003, the vast majority of Hong Kong movies feature entirely dubbed sounds.

If your idea of fun is not watching three very attractive women stumble from one bad relationship to another, then double-cross and stab each other in the back all in the name of finding “love”, then “Garden Street” is a stake to the heart. Only lovers of sappy, improbable, and wholly shallow romance films need apply here.

Law Wai Tak (director) / Ng Kin Hung, Lor Wai Tak, Shum Lap Keung (screenplay)

Buy Love in Garden Street on DVD