Director: Ivy Ho
Cast: Jacky Cheung, Tang Wei, Paw Hee Ching, Danny Lee, Andy On, Maggie Ho Yee Cheung, Mimi Chu, Lam Wai, Kwok Fung, Gil Mohindepaul Singh
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Festive Films & Golden Village
Official Website: -
Opening Day: 8 April 2010
The story of Crossing Hennessy takes place in one of the most colorful districts in Hong Kong – Wanchai. This is a district where commerce, nightlife, schools, things old and new cram against one another. In the middle of Wanchai lies Hennessy Road, which in effect divides the district into two halves. The story's protagonists, Oi Lin and Loy, each live on one side of Hennessy Road. Crossing Hennessy is about how they meet, and how they enter one another's story.
Loy's family owns an electric appliance store. Well over thirty, Loy is still carefree like a perpetual teenager, living with his widowed but no less glitzy mother, and a reserved, doting aunt. His mom sets him up on a blind date with Oi Lin, a quiet and stubborn girl-next-door, who takes care of a sanitary ware shop for her uncle. Neither Loy nor Oi Lin like the idea of blind-dating, so on their first date they both go out of their way to make themselves as unattractive as possible to the other person. In the end, they do succeed in not saying one word to each other!
The truth is, Loy and Oi Lin both have someone else in their hearts. Loy is still emotionally attached to his puppy-love girlfriend, who has since become a successful photographer, whose sophisticated world is beyond Loy's ken. Oi Lin has eagerly waited for her boyfriend to complete his term in prison, but the lovers now realize that making up for lost time is slightly harder than they've expected.
Loy and Oi Lin, however, are somehow thrown together for a second meeting, and this time the ice breaks. Little by little, they realize they have grown fond of each other more than they had initially bargained for.
Ah, so this is life. One where we common folks go about our everyday lives talking about what books we enjoy reading, sipping cheap drinks in cafes and making sure we’ve got the best deals from electronic stores. Forget all the wham-bhams of melodramatic love stories we are often bombarded with in cinemas. This is one grounded tale you’d actually believe in. And it delights you because in this Ivy Ho directed film, it is one of those rare occasions where cinema accurately reflects life.
For those who are familiar with Ho’s acclaimed writing credits which include Comrades, Almost a Love Story (1996), July Rhapsody (2002) and Divergence (2005), her latest work should not come as a surprise. She directs her own screenplay which tells the story of a man who works in an electrical store and a woman who works in a bathroom appliance store. Both are in their 30s and have no stable life partner. They are set up for a date by their relatives, and through a series of peculiarly familiar situations, their friendship blossoms into, yes, love.
Trust Ho to come up with this story which takes place amidst the hustles and bustles of Hong Kong. After her directorial debut Claustrophobia (2008), Ho changes gear and trades silent tensions for a motley crew of characters who talk, chat and occasionally gossip throughout the 105 minute film. These everyday conversations will remind you that these penned characters are, in fact, like us day in and day out. This is also why the film works on all levels, making audiences connect with the colourful personalities and engage in the affirming tale about searching for true love.
It helps that Ho has a gifted cast to work with. Jacky Cheung (Hot Summer Days) may be known as the God of Songs, but who would have known that the underrated actor is capable of bringing across the emotions of this character so affectingly? He is paired up with Tang Wei (Lust, Caution), who lets loose herself to play a comedic character after being all tense and serious in Ang Lee’s film. There are also veterans like Paw Hee Ching (The Way We Were), Danny Lee (Playboy Cops), Chu Mimi (72 Tenants of Prosperity), as well as cameos by Lowell Lo, Ekin Cheng and Maggie Siu to make this a true blue Hong Kong production. Although there seems to be a whole lot of characters, these webbed relationships are well developed, thanks to a brilliant screenplay.
Adding to the authentic flavour is the sights and sounds of the shopping paradise. Those who frequent Hong Kong will find joy in the scenes which take place at Lockhart Road and Hennessy Road, as well as the episodes which play out symbolically in the local “Cha Chaan Tengs” (tea cafes) and the Cotton tree Drive Marriage Registry.
Film lovers would also be glad to know that this is one of those in your face movies which do not leave any room for imagination. Whether it is the cell prisoner Cheung has to play in one of his ex girlfriend’s photo shoots, the rotten tooth in Tang’s mouth or the mysterious Indian man who constantly appears in the duo’s life, these are probably symbolic in Ho’s approach to telling a story so heartwarmingly engaging, you’d find yourself smiling from beginning to end.
(Complemented by a superb screenplay and a competent cast, this is one down to earth love story you’d find yourself believing in)
Review by John Li