The Truth About Jane and Sam

This new film directed by Derek Yee (Viva Erotica, Full Throttle and Ces’t la Vie, Mon Cherie) is a very pleasant modern romance that could have done with a little less predictability to it. It is clearly influenced by Chungking Express – in particular the second story in that film – and though it is not as magical as that it certainly has its charms as it sweeps the viewer through the streets of HK.

Sam (Peter Ho) has moved to HK from Singapore to be a photojournalist at a glossy gossip magazine. He spends much of his time chasing after celebrities to snap a picture of them. He doesn’t really enjoy doing this and is looking for a story of his own to write. One afternoon he skips out of work to see a film (one of my favorite activities as well!) – Chungking Express – and is bothered by a girl smoking behind him (just as Brigitte Lin exhales on the screen). He turns around to complain but she is hidden behind sunglasses and ignores him. He thinks to himself – “Hmm, Wong Kar-Wai always wears sunglasses – perhaps that is the way to watch his films” and puts on his own pair to enjoy the film.

Inspired by the film, he walks through Chungking Mansions and I truly expected to see Lin come running along in her beige raincoat with a group of Indians after her. Once again he bumps into the same girl, watches her pop a pill and decides to follow her in hopes of a story. This character played by Fann Wong is sort of a drugged up party girl version of Faye Wong’s character in Chungking. Looking very much like her – with much of the same energy and mannerisms (looking over her aviator sunglasses etc.) – Yee on occasion photos her in poses that are near replicas of ones that Faye did in Chungking.

As Sam follows her he watches her con men out of money, steal drinks and take drugs. He is of course fascinated by her and asks her if he can do a story on her and the nihilistic disco going drug-taking youth of HK that she represents. She agrees – for money of course – and they start spending much time together.
Well you know where this train is going – but Yee does it with a nice subtle touch, a few twists and turns and is able to generate a good solid emotional impact.

Both Ho and Wong are very new faces and both do quite credible jobs. Ho doesn’t have to do much more than look and act sweet, but he does it well. I thought Fann Wong was very good – as she goes through a metamorphosis in this film and makes it quite believable. One of the best performances is by Chin Kar-lok who plays her brother – initially appearing to be a tough triad hoodlum, but who in fact is a big softie who cares very much for his sister.

Chin Kar-lok
In a publicity shot.