90s Far East Bracket: Xin Buliao Qing (C’est La Vie, Mon Chéri, 1994)

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The first film in my second match-up in the first round of the 90s Far East Bracket!

Written By: Tung-Shing Yee
Directed By: Tung-Shing Yee

This is another film I most likely never would have bothered to check out if not for Filmspotting and the 90’s Far East Bracket, if you don’t know what I’m talking about just head over to the Filmspotting message boards to find out. But, thanks to my participation on said bracket I found myself watching Xin Buliao Qing one Saturday afternoon. In most ways this is a very conventional love story and a very conventional love film. But there are some aspects of Xin Buliao Qing that rise above the convention to create an enjoyable movie watching experience.

As I said above, the majority of the story in Xin Buliao Qing is told through conventional love methods. Boy is sad, boy meets quirky interesting girl, she wins him over, his life changes as a result, but oh no, tragedy strikes his new love interest, and while boy will miss girl we know he has the strength to carry on now as well as his old flame waiting in the wings. That is the standard movie romance and in that regard Xin Buliao Qing is cliche and commonplace. That’s not to say that Xin Buliao Qing is a bad movie, because even within the standard romance it has a light and enjoyable air about it.

However, where Xin Buliao Qing begins to rise above its standard trappings is in the character of Min. In other romantic films that have traversed the same territory more often than not the lead actress has played her part with a bit of energy but also with a pall hanging over her head, letting you know that something bad was going to happen. Anita Yuen avoids that trap, and until the moment her sickness is mentioned I didn’t suspect this movie was going in that direction simply because of how much verve she was putting into the role. In some ways I wish the film had never gone that route, it would have been more interesting for once to have the sweet relationship that changes someone’s life actually last as opposed to ending in tragedy.

The use of music also stopped Xin Buliao Qing from falling head over heels into the expected tropes of its story. I fail to see how anyone can’t get behind a movie that uses In the Mood by Glenn Miller Orchestra in one of its best scenes. The rest of the music did a fine job of setting the tone of the film, of filling out the story where words couldn’t and allowing Anita Yuen to be endlessly cute. Another area I found interesting was the scene when Kit interrupts Min and her mother as they are praying to Buddha for her recovery. More often than not the subject of religion is left completely out of romance stories, and while not exactly given great depth in Xin Buliao Qing, it was nice to see it touched upon.

As I have said a few times, Xin Buliao Qing isn’t a bad film by any means. You can see the craft that went into the film, but you can also see how it plays into the standard conventions of its genre. For the performance of Yuen, the music used and the lighthearted and enjoyable nature of the story I would suggest Xin Buliao Qing as a unknown film for people to check out. It won’t set your world on fire and it’s a story that’s been done countless times before, but Xin Buliao Qing sometimes rises above itself and presents an overall gratifying movie watching experience.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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