Crossing Hennessy -- Film Review
EmptyHONG KONG -- Two people cajoled into a blind date by their relatives get off on a rotten start, but love is literally round the street corner in "Crossing Hennessy." This trivial but chirpy sophomore feature directed by eminent Hong Kong screenwriter Ivy Ho is buoyed by a fleet of fabulous veteran supporting actors. So much so that the low key romantic leads Tang Wei and Jacky Cheung struggle to come to the fore, and never reach that transcendent moment of connection. Supposedly a rom-com, it feels like Sunday brunch with an extended family in a noisy dim sum restaurant rather than a candle-lit dinner in a bistro.
The film should do moderate business on its home turf, while aiming for festivals showcasing Asian popular cinema. Viewers in their mid-30 or above ought to agree with the jovial humor whereas a younger generation could lose patience with the slow-burning courtship.
Hennessy is not a river, nor a bridge, but the main road in Hong Kong's Wanchai district. It's where Loy (Cheung) helps his Draconian widowed mother Mrs. Chiang (Paw Hee Ching) run an electrical appliances shop. Further down the road, Oi Lin (Tang) works for her uncle's toilet retail business. Both are somewhat attached, only Oi Lin's volatile beefcake boyfriend Xu (Andy On) is in jail, while Loy casually beds his newly divorced ex (Maggie Cheung Ho Hee.)
Reluctantly brought together in a blind date arranged by meddlesome relatives, they keep up a charade to humor them. As they warm to each other, they realize that despite geographical proximity, taking one step closer to love requires a lifetime's courage.
In place of chronological tricks and meaningful silences in her debut "Claustrophobia," Ho uses a huge breakdown of scenes and torrential dialogue, most of which is cheekily good natured. The chatty lines comes off best in a subplot about the love triangle and personality clashes between Mrs. Chiang, her boyfriend Ching (Danny Lee) and her spinster sister (Mimi Chu).
Tang acquits herself well as the girl next door, but has no occasion to call upon the incredible range she displayed in "Lust, Caution." Cheung looks too old for the part and acts too young.
One senses that "Crossing" aspires to be a swan song to a colorful area in transition under the government's soulless and philistine "Urban Renewal" project. However, this is not adequately expressed by having the two leads talk and walk up and down the same few streets. Despite an extraordinary amount of shots taken, no strong sense of place or direction emerges. Ho is yet to gain command of distinctive visual language and seamless continuity, as cinematography is often flat and compositions bland, while certain scenes lack sequential logic.
Venue: Hong Kong International Film Festival -- opening film
Irresistible Films and Sil-Metropole Organization presents an Irresistible Gamma Ltd production
Sales: Distribution Workshop
Cast: Jacky Cheung, Tang Wei, Paw Hee Ching, Andy On, Maggie Ho Yee Cheung, Danny Lee, Mimi Chu
Director-screenwriter: Ivy Ho
Producers: Cary Cheng, Yee Chung Man, Cheung Hong Tat
Executive producers: Bill Kong, Ryuhei Chiba, Hugh Simon, Song Dai
Director of Photography: Poon Hang Sang
Production designer: Man Nim Chung
Music: Anthony Chue
Editor: Kong Chi Leung
No rating, 105 minutes