Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
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"Love In A Puff"
First things first, for those who have never watched the original, "Love In A Puff", fear not, the sequel "Love In The Buff" is a film that you will wholeheartedly enjoy. The film continues the story of Jimmy (Shawn Yue) and Cherie (Miriam Yeung) after the younger man and older woman get together in the romantic comedy. The couple soon discovers that being in a relationship is not as easy as they first thought it would be, and after Jimmy repeatedly mixes up work and romance, the two decide to call it quits. The two ended up moving to Beijing for different reasons and at separate times, but six months later, they run into each other again. It is "Love In A Puff" all over again, this time in an adulterous relationship.
With that in mind, clearly "Love In A Buff" brings nothing new to the table except cliches, but writer-director Pang Ho-Cheung's quirky romantic comedy works so well because it manages to infuse these cliches with a refreshing twist. From the black comedy beginning to the heartwarming end, "Love In The Buff" is relentlessly entertaining yet manages to maintain realism in its portrayal of modern love. The film is helped along by the endearing and chemistry-laden acting by its two leads, Shawn Yue and Miriam Yeung, who play Jimmy and Cherie respectively. Together, they are a tour de force, playing off each other's lines and reactions in a light, natural way that leaves the viewer no choice but to root for them. In fact, characters that share screen time with either of them are elevated to personal favorites immediately, because their banters are sharply written which ranges from bathroom humor to jabs at rom-com tropes to dating rituals, such as Jimmy's exchanges with his colleagues.
That said, behind the façade of the witty dialogue, the supporting characters are as thin as string cheese, with Mini Yang playing the role of Jimmy's preceding love interest, flight attendant Shang You-you who is the usual adorable, flirty and overall nice girl who just happens to fall for a man who cannot get over his ex and Zheng Xu playing a Malaysian Chinese I.T. specialist Sam who is an overall nice guy. Thankfully, despite their lack of background story, these characters are given considerable screen time, which helps to build our affection for them. Kudos to actor Huang Xiaoming who plays Ben, a shy man with an overprotective mother who is looking for a life partner, and whose short appearance is itself a testament to Pang's directorial effort to charm.
Additionally, with Pang at the wheel, "Love In The Buff" is no average romantic-comedy rehash. The film manages to display how good cinematography can make a difference, by integrating a light pink gradient and plenty of lighting in scenes to add a poignant feeling, and the occasional out-of-focus and shaky shots to lend a raw and ultimately personal feeling to the film. For those who have watched the Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy movies "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset", the resemblances in cinematography are there. Surprisingly, the film's soundtrack does not fail to vow either. The indie musical style works well to set the mood for the scene without being overly intrusive.
In conclusion, "Love In The Buff" may be recycled material, but without a doubt, it proves itself to be capable of being entertaining without being degrading, and witty without being pretentious. "Love In The Buff" is right up there with "Love In A Puff" on the Hong Kong cult hit charts as satiric contemporary romantic comedies complete in all its complexity and pain.Cinema Online, 16 April 2012