All About Love -- Film Review

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BUSAN, South Korea -- 
Hong Kong filmmaker Ann Hui has made half a career out of taking the
city's social politics to task, and she does it again with "All About 
Love," an almost romantic comedy about four lesbian friends, two
 one-night stands that end in pregnancies and the men that find a way 
to be fit into their lives.


With homosexuality being decriminalized in Hong Kong for just over two 
decades and families increasingly being labeled alternative, the
material is timely. But unlike "Night and Day," which managed to tap 
into the complexities of the marginalized (if somewhat 
melodramatically), "Love" drowns in its own politics and winds up
sending mixed messages that are best left unsent.


Women's and LGBT-themed festivals are likely to take notice, 
particularly with director Hui's name above the title, but the chances
of much beyond art house releases outside Asia, if that, looks 
unlikely.


Forty-something former lovers Macy (comedy veteran Sandra Ng) and Anita
 (Hong Kong's long-absent favorite glamour girl, Vivian Chow) reconnect 
by chance when both find themselves pregnant after spur of the moment 
one-night flings. Although both are confused as to what they're 
feeling and how to proceed, they do manage to renew their shaky bond
with each other. While Anita considers terminating her pregnancy, Macy
offers her righteously indignant lesbian friends Eleanor (Joey Man) 
and Wai (Jo Kuk) the option of adopting her child.
But when the 
fathers (Eddie Cheung and William Chan) get wind of the plans, they 
force themselves into all four women's lives and the hijinks ensue. 
Or they should ensue.

"All About Love" has flashes of wit and some 
earnestly charming moments, but those are buried under piles of
distracting polemics and some disturbingly misguided "comedy." 
Dialogue that's supposed to sound like casual lounge conversation is
littered with words like "patriarchal" and "heterosexual hegemony." 
Robert, the already-married father of bisexual Macy's baby, has a 
penchant for domestic abuse that stems from her excessive shopping,
but gives up his battering ways when he learns to give his wife a few 
orgasms (!) so she'll stop nagging. The former comes off like a 
screed, the latter naively unfunny.


The film's cast is the one bright spot, and as she frequently does, 
Hui draws engaging performances from her leads. Each does what they can with the material they're given to work with, and puts
 considerable effort into making Yang Yeeshan's wispy characters feel
 like living, breathing Hong Kongers.

Things get a bit creaky when the time comes for Ng and Chow to get hot
and heavy -- it's more a puff than an eruption of passion -- but their
dynamic works more often than not; Ng's typical urbane charm helps. Too often, however, Yang falls back on archetypes -- the man-hating 
lesbian for whom everything is a political statement (whether or not
 she has hair on her armpits remains a mystery), the pretty lipstick 
lesbian who's never seen without heels -- that make it hard to care
 about them until it's too late. But that's OK, because that's when the
 preaching starts again.

There's an interesting film in here about the
 changing face of the modern family, but a pat, agonizingly happy
 ending really only makes matters worse. It doesn't come close to the
 jubilant finale Hui and Yang may have been gunning for.

A Class Limited production

Sales Agent: Mega-Vision Pictures Limited


Credits:

Director: Ann Hui

Producer: Ann Hui

Writer: Yang Yeeshan

Executive producer: Angela Wong, Wong Jing;

Director of photography: Charlie Lam

Production designer: Albert Poon

Costume designer: Lancia Ng

Music: Anthony Chue

Editor: Eric Leung, Chan Chi-Wai.

Cast: Sandra Ng, Vivian Chow, Eddie Cheung, William Chan, Joey Man, Jo Kuk

MPAA rating: Not rated.
Running time 106 minutes.
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