It’s that time of the year again folks. A time when I sit back, alone on the sofa in my fluffy bunny slippers, casually sipping a glass of chilled vino. Catching up, heart all a flutter, with the finest romantic comedies Hong Kong has to offer. This year, I turn my attention to the adorable Shu Qi and the rather dashing Andy Lau, making ends meet in an Andrew Lau film (the other one, it can get confusing) that doesn’t involve corrupt police officers, fast cars, or riders of the storm. Well maybe one, but who’s counting?
Andy Lau stars as billionaire Sam, a business tycoon who comes across penniless dancer Milan (Shu Qi) at a hotel casino. Sam doesn’t let on to the fact that he is, in fact, incredibly rich and pretty damn famous. He doesn’t have to, because despite his fame in certain circles, and despite his vast wealth, Milan has never heard of him. Which serves the plot rather nicely, don't you think? They meet, they experience tiny moments, they embrace the little things in life, and they fall in love. Probably. The big question, of course, is whether or not love will find a way after Milan discovers who Sam really is. Can true love overcome all obstacles, including class difference? Well, duh…
Just in case you’re still not convinced, writers Yuen and Tang throw two more romances into the mix. Sam’s driver, Tim, falls - rather reluctantly - for single mother Shannon, and Sam’s secretary Jo has a soft spot for hotel construction worker Lin Jiu. Jo and Lin Jiu get a fair share of screen time in the first hour. Denise Ho stars as Jo, probably the most realistic character in the film. Her insecurities feel genuine, more heartfelt and a little less stagy than those of her top-billing co-star.
That’s not to say the pairing of Shu Qi and Andy Lau doesn’t work; it’s not like Shu Qi can be blamed for the familiarity of the relationship she’s asked to convey. I could watch these two all day if the truth were told, but their relationship relies on an audience willing to believe in fairytales. However, let’s be clear on this point, romantic comedies tend to lean towards make believe anyway, and the whole 'wishing on a star' thing is a given in this type of movie. I’m not convinced that I’d want it any other way, to be honest.
The final act - which involves a TV programme and the most irritating game show presenter ever - is contrived and unnecessary, but isn’t that the kind of hokum an undemanding, unapologetic, loved up audience demands? Shu Qi and Andy Lau take over in the final act, and their performances are just fine. It’s hard not to fall in love with them because they’re both such loveable creations anyway. It’s Andy Lau doing Andy Lau and Shu Qi doing Shu Qi. What’s not to love? In fact, all the performances are of the highest order (except said TV show host), and the characters they portray are incredibly likeable.
Look for a Star is exactly the kind of film you’re expecting when you sit down with a glass of the sparkly pink stuff - an unashamed romantic comedy with a sprinkling of fairytale nonsense and lashings of star turns. It’s a little drawn out perhaps, and is all too eager to hammer its point home with a love-dipped mallet, but all in all, it gets the job done. Shu Qi and Andy Lau take the lead in an unapologetically breezy dance to the heart and back.
It’s not art, it’s definitely not Needing You, but it gets the job done. I almost feel like going outside and hugging the first stranger that comes along, but I won't. In fear of reprisals and court dates. Right then, where did I put my copy of Tokyo Gore Police? AW