Juliet In Love (2000)

Directed by: Wilson Yip
Written by: Wilson Yip & Matt Chow
Producer: Joe Ma
Starring: Francis Ng, Sandra Ng, Eric Kot & Simon Yam

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Nomimations at the Hong Kong Film Awards 2001:
Best Director (Wilson Yip)
Best Actor (Francis Ng)
Best Supporting Actor (Simon Yam)

Award at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards 2001:
Film of Merit

Judy's (Sandra Ng from Metade Fumaca) life is as close to empty as you can come. A year earlier she was diagnosed with breastcancer and had to remove one of her breasts. During this difficult time her husband filed for divorce and today all that remains of her family is her sick grandfather. She works as a receptionist in a restaurant and there is where she meets small time hoodlum Jordon, (Francis Ng from Bullets Over Summer) who is trying to cheat his way into getting a table at the restaurant. Their first meeting is short but they're soon going to cross paths again.

Late one evening Judy's grandfather is out walking and, in a moment of carelessness, gets hit by a car and taken to the hospital. Later the same evening Jordon is put in the bed next to him after he's unable to pay back his debt to triadboss On (Simon Yam from Bullet In The Head). Eventually Jordon gets out of the hospital and right when he's about to leave On enters, stabbed by his wife. In exchange for a reducement of his debt On asks Jordon and Judy (who donated blood to On) to look after his 6 month old baby boy (one of many children On has with many different women). Under Judy's roof in a temporary family environment, the two lonely souls become closer to each other...

Can you heal a broken heart? That is the question director Wilson Yip asks in this romantic drama. This movie shares the central theme of Yips Bullets Over Summer, in other words it's about people who find each other through similar emotional scars. The young director handles this subject with confidence and also this time he makes it a little more challenging for us as an an audience. Some crucial moments in the film are played out without any dialogue and it's up to us to know these characters and their inner emotions to understand these scenes fully.

Lam Wah Chuen, the DP for Bullets Over Summer, has once again been brought onboard and for the most part his photography is held back and is very natural looking. Some scenes are infused with a green colour scheme (like in the triads restaurant) which honestly doesn't work for me but didn't ruin the movie as a whole. The camerawork is also a bit inventive this time around but it suits the story and is not overdone in any way.

The script by Wilson Yip and Matt Chow is filled with both snappy and beautiful dialogue and without that the direction wouldn't have been as good as it is. It's obvious that Yips work as a director becomes so much easier thanks to already well written words. Now that I've seen some of his movies it becomes clear that he's great at directing actors, something I think he shares with the American director Paul Thomas Anderson.

This is just the second movie I've seen Francis Ng in but he has quickly made quite an impression on me as an actor. We don't really get to know his character until the later stages in the movie, but when we do he seems like a man who doesn't trust people very easily. When he tells Judy about what happened to his family he still holds back and this scene is really Francis finest hour. Very emotional and touching stuff.

Sandra Ng (no relation to Francis) was an actress I've never seen before but she didn't fail to gain my respect. Her acting is more subtle but she doesn't need to say too many words for us to know what she has been through. Her scenes together with Francis Ng are so well acted and I think with another director the scenes wouldn't approach the heights we see here. It's a damn shame that she wasn't even nominated for a Best Actress Hong Kong Film Award that year. She deserved at least that.

In a supporting part we see veteran actor Simon Yam and he once again shows what great skill he has and that he is one hell of a versatile actor. Eric Kot (from You Shoot, I Shoot) also pops up as Judy's driving instructor but also one of her few friends in this world. At first glance I felt their scenes together didn't fit the but after some thinking I clearly saw how well they fitted into the movies structure.

The last act of the movie has some scenes that at first viewing felt a bit too abstract and symbolic but now that I've seen the movie 3 times I think I see what Yip wanted with this. To me, it's up to the viewer to interpret the final events of the movie and it's actually a very good thing. As I said this may be more apparent upon subsequent viewings not the first one.

Wilson Yip has learned a lot since Bullets Over Summer and it's a very touching and well made drama he has made here.

The DVD:

The Mei Ah dvd presents Juliet In Love in the original aspect ratio 1.85:1. Being struck only a few months after it's theatrical release I expected the print to be a little bit better. Colours are good and vibrant but there are signs of edge enhancement in some scenes. Pixelation rears it's ugly head on a few occasions and there's also a fair number of print defects here and there. Detail and black level are pretty good though. It's a a good print but a few things could've been slightly better.

Like other Mei Ah discs we get four audio options. The original Cantonese track in Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0 and the same for the Mandarin dub.The 2.0 track is very centered but doesn't have to be more spread out as far as I'm concerned. In this movie dialogue is more important that aspect is presented well. The soothing music score does work it's way between the left and front speakers though.

The English subtitles has it's fair share of spelling errors but not the point where you're wondering what's going on. As usual traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are included.

The extras consists of what Mei Ah usually does. We get the theatrical trailer (which still has the original title Butterfly Lovers), a trailer for the Chow Yun-Fat film Peace Hotel, plot synopsis and a list of the most essential cast & crew.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson