novels never really caught on here, but they are a big deal in China and Japan.
There was a brief vogue for serialized e-books, but generally American readers
want to hold the entire book in their hands (you take my word for it when it
comes to e-book marketing). In contrast, readers in other markets seem to
appreciate way web novels unfold without any guarantees—sort of like life. That
is especially true of the hot new web-novel written by Li Ansheng (Anson)’s
former BFF Lin Qiyue (July), transparently based on their lives. Li could
really do without the resulting attention in Derek Tsang’s SoulMates (trailer
which opens this Friday in New York.
was always the wild one and Lin was the responsible one, but somewhere along
the way to their late twenties, they apparently switched. Now Li has a
responsible office job and Lin is presumably in the wind, living the bohemian
life she used to read about in Li’s postcards. They were inseparable through
middle school or whatever it is called in China (it came with uniforms and
military drills that neither were into). They were still closer than sisters in
high school, but that is when the first fissure in their relationship occurred.
His name is Su Jia-ming and he becomes a greater issue over time. Lin is crazy
about him and it is mostly mutual, but he cannot help feeling attractive to her
rebellious yet protective pal Li.
a while they have sort of the reciprocal of Jules
and Jim going on, but misunderstandings and distance will strain their
friendships. Sadly, the few times the two women come together, it seems to
drive them further apart. Of course, viewers will expect some dramatic
revelations in the third act—and Li and Lin do not disappoint.
could be derisively called a “chick flick” but the missing web novelist and her
anticipated final chapter give it an intriguing air of mystery. As Macguffins
go, it isn’t “Rosebud,” but it isn’t bad. In fact, SoulMate has a meta dimension that elevates the film well beyond
Zhou Dongyu and Ma Sichun both bring their A games, convincingly suggesting the
depth and tension of their relationship. There is a lot of integrity to their
performances. These characters know exactly what to say to hurt each other and
it makes us wince in sympathetic pain when they inevitably do. Of course, the
camera absolutely loves them, which does not hurt either.
surprisingly for such a contemporary urban drama set in the world’s most
populous country, hardly any other supporting player gets any appreciable
screen business aside from blandly handsome Toby Lee as the largely clueless
Su. He is serviceable enough, but as the song says, you don’t want to be the
mister who gets between these mega-watt movie star sisters.
There is no question Tsang (son of HK show biz
institution Eric Tsang) is going for the heartstrings, but, believe it or not,
he manages to surprise us at several junctures, with the assistance of a platoon
of screenwriters (Lam Wing Sum, Li Yuan, Xu Yi-meng, and Wu Nan adapting Qing
Shan’s novel). If Beaches wasn’t
weepy enough for you than SoulMate is
in your power zone. Recommended for fans of Chinese melodrama, SoulMate opens this Friday (9/23) in New
York, at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Chinese Cinema, Ma Sichun, Zhou Dongyu