Sophie is a talented cartoonist who seems to have it all- a successful career, great friends and the perfect, handsome fiance, Jeff, a surgeon who her mother adores. So when Jeff is stolen away by Anna, a beautiful actress, Sophie wants her revenge. The first step in her plan, "Sympathy and Understanding" fails, as does her second step, "Nostalgia". Sophie's friends invite her out to a part to cheer her up but she runs into Jeff and Anna. She also runs into Gordon, a photographer who apparently has been recently dumped by Anna. She quickly elicits his help in her revenge campaign.
Why hasn’t anyone thought of casting Zhang Ziyi in a comedy? Is it because she looks like an “ice princess”? Or is it because no one ever thought she could do it? Since her breakout role in 2000’s “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”, Ziyi has starred in close to 15 films. Not one of those however has let her lighten up and let loose- so this reviewer guessed that she probably decided it’s about time.
As her maiden producing effort, Ziyi has chosen to star in the lightweight romantic comedy from Chinese-American filmmaker Eva Jin. She plays a cartoonist who comes up with five steps of taking revenge on her ex-fiancé who dumped her for a pretty young celebrity. Had this been a run-of-the-mill Ziyi film, she would have probably had to act all vengeful and betrayed, perhaps even playing a stalker who refuses to let go.
But “Sophie’s Revenge” is not your average Ziyi film- here she is your equivalent of the ditzy blonde in any typical Hollywood rom-com, the one hung up on love and goes through the obligatory comedic setups before finally discovering true love. Yes, it’s shamelessly predictable like any glossy Hollywood product, and in fact it’s just as polished as well.
Indeed, from its opening frame, it grabs you with its colourful visuals and flashy editing that never quite lets up until its last shot. Kudos to the movie’s elaborate art direction, including several animated montages that are de rigueur of a movie whose setup involves a cartoonist and her imagination- thanks to the gorgeously designed look of the movie, there’s always something to keep you engaged.
But as polished as it may be, Eva Jin’s script is unfortunately quite lacking. It’s never a good sign when what you see in the movie is exactly what’s already in the synopsis- and that’s what “Sophie’s Revenge” is. It doesn’t have much of a plot nor does it develop any of its characters seriously- its sole purpose seems to immerse you in a candy confectionery world filled with sight gags and slapstick antics.
What does work however is Ziyi’s magnetic presence. It’s a truly fresh experience to see Ziyi play against type and we suspect that is one main reason why she has chosen to double hat as producer. Credit must also go to her co-star Fan Bingbing, who plays the devious adulterer to great smarmy effect and is a nice foil against Ziyi’s naïve Sophie.
Of course, neither Ziyi’s Sophie nor Bingbing’s Anna seems a tad real- they are mere cardboard characters in a whimsical fantasy that is best described as cotton-candy fluff. Fortunately, it is content to be just that and is great throwaway entertainment while it lasts. The one (and perhaps only) thing you’ll remember after it ends is Ziyi’s fascinating comedic turn. Won’t someone else put her in a comedy already?
Perhaps the only thing worth checking out is the music video of the theme song from the movie, a duet between Harlem Yu and Angela Zhang. It’s a beautiful song and one that fits the mood of the movie very nicely.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is surprisingly involving for a romantic comedy, making great use of the ambient sounds to deliver a surround experience. The visual transfer is equally robust, preserving the rich and varied colours of the film.
Review by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 15 January 2010