SYNOPSIS: Yang (Yapeng Li)and Wen (Xu Jinglei) have married for almost 10 years. Yang is promoted to the executive position in a big corporation while Wen manages the family on her own. Life and work seems to be getting more tedious for Yang day after day. One day, Yang runs away from home and lives in a hotel across the street. He wants a second for breathing and gets Wen’s attention. He keeps watchful eyes on Wen through a telescope. Days go by and there is no evidence that Wen has been looking for him. Although frustrated, Yang finds out more secrets about Wen through the telescope…
What happens if you can’t find an ending? Well, you come up with three short ones instead. Zhang Yibai’s sequel to his popular TV drama which ended its run some 12 years ago is a collection of three ‘what-if’ scenarios in the lives of once-college sweethearts Wen Hui (Xu Jinglei) and Yang Zheng (Li Yapeng). Yet despite the possibilities, ‘Eternal Moment’ far from lives up to its promise of being unforgettable- instead, only the first vignette is likely to leave much of an impression.
That circles around the premise that Yang Zheng and Wen Hui had eventually married, though the years since have not been kind to them. Yang Zheng has become a workaholic and settled into an almost frustrating routine of shuttling between home and work; while Wen Hui has come to get used to her husband’s absence. So when Yang Zheng returns home one night to find his house packed with partying guests Wen Hui had invited over, he moves into a hotel room to observe her from across the street.
Infidelity is not the question here, but indifference- as Yang Zheng discovers that Wen Hui has pretty much gone on with her own life as if his disappearance did not matter. Heavily stylised unlike the rest of the shorts, this is also perhaps the most heartfelt of them, employing Eason Chan and Faye Wong’s duet ‘Because of Love’ and the former’s ‘Long Time to See’ to evoke feelings of missed opportunities and forgotten priorities especially to long-time married couples who have pretty much settled into a particular routine with little interaction between each other.
Compared to the first evocative piece, the second and third are simply too perfunctory. In the former, the two are living separate lives- Yang Zheng as a car mechanic about to be divorced and Wen Hui as a divorcee with two sons- until their 10th anniversary college reunion brings them together. Banking heavily on nostalgia, director Zhang Yibai uses generously old footage from the TV series and draws several similarities between their current situation and that in the past.
Nonetheless, like the last story, the lack of a compelling narrative or well-drawn characters undermines its potential. And in the last, Yang Zheng and Wen Hui are once again living their own separate lives until a sudden phone call from Wen Hui sends Yang to Bordeaux, France where Hui’s husband is running a wine business. He’s also fallen in love with a young teenage girl, and Wen Hui has discreetly made plans to be her tour guide just to see who this other party is. It isn’t particularly exciting- not even when Chapman To drops in for a surprise cameo as Wen Hui’s husband.
And indeed, one hopes that Yibai had decided to focus on just one ending for the characters, instead of coming up with two half-baked ones. The best part about it is still Eason Chan’s songs, which of course is thanks to the fact that Yapeng (who is also producing the movie) is none other than Faye Wong’s hubby. With little insights on love, and little to entertain as either a romance or a comedy, this ‘Eternal Moment’ feels more like an eternity in mediocrity.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio reproduces the dialogue in the movie clearly. The visual transfer however is disappointing, and appears little better than a downloaded copy you could get off the net.
DVD RATING :
Review by Gabriel Chong