Love Me Not: Hong Kong Review

Love is mighty complicated in Gilitte Leung’s airy but convoluted Hong Kong gender-bender.

The film is a lively, up-to-date LGBT sex comedy from filmmaker Gilitte Leung.

A lesbian woman and gay man share an apartment in Hong Kong in the first act of a breezy, upbeat gender comedy suitable for all audiences. But blurring sexual identity isn't enough for debuting writer-director Gilitte Leung, who proceeds to deconstruct the film in the second half with all-new actors slipping into the main roles. Little is gained, however, beyond mild confusion. Agreeable characters and fresh cinematography that pays close attention to the image will anyway push it into the hands of indie festivals and those interested in LGBT themes.

Photographer Aggie (played by Afa Lee in her first incarnation) and painter Dennis (initially Kenneth Cheng) have been pals since first grade. Now all grown up, they decide to move out of their parents’ cramped digs and get an apartment together. Though she likes girls and he likes boys, the arrangement seems to pose no problems, and makes it easier to mislead their folks about their sexual orientations. Things only get awkward when Aggie breaks up with her girlfriend and apparently starts thinking about having a baby.

At mid-point the camera pulls back and reveals that everything up to this point has been simply a movie played by actors. Except that the storyline is quite autobiographical: Aggie (now Rebecca Yip) is the filmmaker, and she is having a fling with a Japanese-American actress (Hitomi Thompson). After several years of cohabitation, she and Dennis (now played by Siu Wu) are living in separate apartments. This being “reality," they are neither so beautiful nor unfailingly cool as the "fictional" pair. Dennis, for instance, has tried and failed to find a rich sugar-daddy to take care of him, and now is entering into an arranged marriage to qualify for the down payment on an apartment. And Aggie feels jealous and confused.

There’s nothing very consequential about all this, and the film sometimes seems like a magazine article with characters. There are the gay men who have a baby, Aggie’s girlfriends who give her advice, and non-stop background music suggesting swinging 30somethings on the make. Still, indie filmmaker Leung, who participated in producing, lensing, scoring and editing the film, shows a fine eye detail that gives the close-ups a modern taste. She is also skillful at directing a nicely assorted cast of near look-a-likes. Pretty pixie Lee stands out in a scene fighting with her mother over her parents' late divorce -- a nice contradiction of her own anti-traditional lifestyle.

Venue: Hong Kong Film Festival
Production company: Colored Production Company
Cast:Afa Lee, Kenneth Cheng, Rebecca Yip, Siu Wu, Hitomi Thompson, Dominic Yip

Director: Gilitte Leung
Screenwriters: Gilitte Leung
Producers: Joyce Lam, Tony Jung,
Gilitte Leung
Executive Producers:
Gilitte Leung, Joyce Lam
Directors of photography: Evangelo Costadimas, Gilitte Leung
Gilitte Leung
Music: Gilitte Leung
92 minutes.