Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Love For All Seasons” and “Good Times Bad Times”
"Romancing In Thin Air" takes the hackneyed soap opera trope to a whole new level of cheese with its story about a heartbroken alcoholic superstar who falls for a fan, who happens to be a country girl. Louis Koo and Sammi Cheng reunite after seven years to star in this Johnnie To-directed movie about finding love in high altitude Yunnan, China, and fans should rejoice for the movie brings back the good old nostalgic memories of watching "Love For All Seasons" and "Good Times Bad Times" in 2003. Yes, despite the cheesiness and the illogicality of it all, there is fun to be had in watching "Romancing In Thin Air".
When Hong Kong superstar Michael Lau (Louis Koo), is dumped by his fiancee on the altar after her long-lost love turns up, his career and health leaves as well. In an alcohol-induced state, he manages to hitch a ride in Sau's (Sammi Cheng) truck, thus following her back to her motel, which she also manages, in the mountains. Michael is finally discovered, and after much mishaps, he begins a journey of self-recovery, while falling in love with Sau along the way, who also happens to be a big fan of his. However, Sau is still waiting for her missing husband to return, which made for credible conflict and a juicy plot. It is details like Sau sending the recovering alcoholic Michael to obtain wine for her from the church and how all the villagers seem to be so hostile towards each other yet help one another during certain scenes that made watching the movie jarring.
With more than its fair share of questionable plot threads and loose ends, it seems as if the movie was written by four different people. Clocking in at almost two hours, the movie also dragged at times, but the occasional humour and touching scenes managed to keep it from being an irritating bore. In the end, it is almost a relief that Johnnie To managed to resist the temptation of a sweeping reunion or climactic "a-ha!" moment, and it is in the understated ending that the conclusion succeeds in satisfying.
Much of the appeal is down to Cheng, in such charming form that it is just plain enjoyable to watch her, despite the broad strokes her internal struggle is painted in such as how she cried and howled whenever she thought about her husband, and how she looked at Koo so adoringly to demonstrate that she is falling in love with him. Koo is equally charming, albeit in a more subtle form, such as the smiles that stole into his face when he thought about Sau.
This is one of those movies where everything is designed to put the viewer at risk of a saccharine-induced coma. Sau's husband, Tien, tries to woo her by ordering posters and memorabilia of Michael Lau that he knows she would like and even takes to learning Lau's movie stunts. Even the cinematography is breathtaking, with the camera depicting scene after scene of snow-covered Shangri-La, its vast green fields and remote but quaint village town. If you have no urge to visit Yunnan before, you will after watching this movie.
In the end, for all its clunky scripting there is an essential sweetness at work in "Romancing In Thin Air", thanks partly to the chemistry between Koo and Cheng and partly to the unusually cheesy love story that ultimately makes the melodrama a guilty pleasure.Cinema Online, 15 February 2012