SYNOPSIS: Xiaoqing and Xiaohong are twins with distinctive, different personalities. Xiaoqing believes intrue love but Xiaohong is a monetarist woman. Xiaoqing hasa boyfriend Jiang Cheng forten years, where she broke up with anger because Jiang Cheng is cheated all money and their property. Xiaohong is a mistress of her boss more than 10 years and everything come to her is cheating and she feels disheartened. Xiaohong determineto use the credit card limits to access a man, she finds a man, named Zhang Quan, has no limited credit card. Xiaoqing is stimulated, and applies lots of credit cards to disguise as a socialite. She wants to marry ayoung, successful entrepreneur Shen Tao prior to her credit card due. Both ladies are approaching a monetary life, but God likes having fun with them…
There is but one reason to catch this Mainland comedy- Taiwanese model-turned-actress Lin Chi-ling. Playing not one but two roles in this story about a pair of twin sisters with vastly different romantic trajectories in their adult life, it sees Chi-ling take on quite possibly her most challenging role to date- and for those who have sniggered at her non-acting in ‘Red Cliff’ and ‘The Treasure Hunter’, ‘Love on Credit’ may just be that movie to convince you she may have what it takes to be a competent actress after all.
Aided in no small measure by some deft editing from Li Wenders, Chi-ling plays both the materialistic Xiaohong and the more down-to-earth Xiaoqing, their differing personalities despite being twins also a result of their parents’ divorce at a young age and their subsequent years with mom and dad respectively. While Xiaohong dreams of marrying a rich husband, Xiaoqing is content of living a simple married life with her longtime boyfriend Jiang Cheng (Liao Fan).
Alas fate isn’t kind to either- when we first meet Xiaohong, she has just broken off her futile relationship with a married man; and Xiaoqing has just discovered that her boyfriend had recently mortgaged their future away to his best friend. A chance meeting between the separated pair gives Xiaoqing the taste of wealth when Xiaohong invites her to a party where she meets the socially awkward executive Shen Tao (Tony Yang). Meanwhile, Xiaohong meets her dream husband in the form of Zhang Quan (Chen Kun), the latter’s family just about one of the wealthiest in China.
It’s not hard to guess where the moral behind the story, especially when director Leste Chen (who co-wrote the script with Dean Wang and Zuo Er) prefaces the movie with Chi-ling’s voiceover about the importance of wealth and riches in marriage. The topic is a prescient one- with the recent economic boom in China, there are significantly more wealthy people around, as well as significantly more materialistic women looking to snag a rich husband. But even as Chen manages to tap into the zeitgeist, he doesn’t say a lot about it.
In fact, the surprising thing about this rom-com is that not a lot actually happens. Both Xiaohong and Xiaoqing go on their respective dates, talk about it with each other, date again, and then finally arrive at the conclusion that wealth isn’t really that important. It should not come as any surprise what the eventual ending is, given that any Mainland movie must be sanitised enough to promote some wholesome societal message before it passes through the equivalent of their censors to be approved for release.
That is despite the fact that Chen is also the director for the controversial Taiwanese movie ‘Eternal Summer’ as well as the horror flick ‘The Heirloom’- here, he is at his tamest and most commercial, delivering a slick product devoid of the edge in his earlier works. Nonetheless, that is scant excuse for the slack pacing, coasting from scene to scene with little narrative momentum to keep its audience engaged.
It seems Chen is simply content to rest on the laurels of his lead actress Chi-ling, and certainly it is thanks to her that the movie remains watchable. It’s no small feat for any actor to juggle two diametrically different roles in the same movie, but Chi-ling seems to do that effortlessly playing both Xiaohong and Xiaoqing. With hair cropped short in one and left long for the other, she makes you forget that you are watching the same person play both characters, and she invests as much emotion and life in either character.
And true to its title, this movie runs primarily on the credit of its star Lin Chi-ling, against which neither Tony Yang nor Chen Kun (who also takes producer credit) manages to outshine. For what Chi-ling’s performance was worth, she certainly deserved a movie with a better script and tighter direction- but fans of the actress should still check this out for testament that she is much more than a flower vase on screen.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is serviceable, while the visuals are presented in 720p so expect a thick black border around your screen if you’re watching this on a TV with a higher resolution.
DVD RATING :
Review by Gabriel Chong