Juliet in Love

Reviewed by YTSL
 

According to the magazine description of the airline in whose plane I saw this movie (and yes, it was the first time I watched a Hong Kong film while thousands of feet above ground), that which was on view is a romantic comedy.  In all honesty, I am at a loss to explain how it can be perceived as such.  Instead, IMHO, this low-key Wilson Yip-helmed and Joe Ma-produced work is actually much more of a sensitive -- and sometimes somber -- dramatic piece.  After all, we are talking about an offering whose:  Main female character (Judy, not Juliet, is well portrayed by character actress - not just  comic -- Sandra Ng) - is someone who the gods have latterly not treated too kindly; and dominant personality is a man (Jordon  - and no, this is NOT a typo on my part -- is equally commendably essayed by Francis Ng) whose happy-go-lucky ways cannot hide the fact that he is one of life's losers.

Sandra Ng and Francis Ng
More specifically:  Judy is a woman whose husband left her after she suffered a medical calamity and whose beloved grandfather is rather senile as well as frail; while Jordon is a ne'er do well who isn't mean enough to be the kind of ruffian that people are apt to be scared by yet is hardly the kind of man who can live a law-abiding kind of life.  The paths of JULIET IN LOVE's far from glamorous and happy protagonists cross when Jordon tries to jump the long waiting queue for tables at the restaurant where Judy is in charge of bookings and seating arrangements.  Sometime later, not only do they meet again -- while Judy is on her way to the hospital to check up on her grandfather, who had had an accident; and Jordon on his way to rescue a henchman (played by Tats Lau) from menacing debt collectors - but they actually get saddled with a baby - whose parent neither of them is -- to look after.  Over the course of a fair amount of time, the two different-temperament-but-both-lonely souls bond and also come to know more about the other while looking after a human being who is more helpless than either of them...
Simon Yam and Lam Suet
Though it could easily have been, JULIET IN LOVE is saved from being a major downer of a movie by its somehow containing and sending out a lot of warm vibes.  This is due in some part to Matt Chow's generally nicely nuanced script emphasizing that small rendered deeds - including such as the purchase of a pair of cheap slippers or a dozen bottles of a well known soft drink along with the loaning or claiming of a set of keys -- can have a considerable impact on the lives of people.  The definite abilities of the production's actors - to not only keep their characters from becoming mere caricatures but also, with a few broad strokes, infuse them with some humanity - surely played a part too in this being so (The standout cast includes:  Simon Yam as a Triad boss named Cheng who is as concerned with being a good father to his children as ensuring that he and his men get the respect he thinks they are due; Lam Suet as the most brutish of Cheng's minions; Eric Kot as Judy's shy suitor cum driving instructor; and the senior actor - whose name I do not know -- who played the grandfather who inexplicably believed that "No Coke, no hope").  The wonderful cinematography - which makes what would otherwise be mundane surroundings and scenes appear special -- was an additional element which contributed to my enjoying viewing this quality offering (and recognizing that it had more care lavished on it than your average year 2000 Hong Kong cinematic production).
Francis and Eric Kot
This is not to say however that this is a faultless film.  For one thing, though quite a few of its details can be rather charming, this (re)viewer is not particularly sure what is the ultimate point of this cinematic - and emotional -- exercise.  Most notably, it is my sense that the movie had an unsatisfying ending which worked to unfortunately undo or undermine much of what had been achieved earlier in the production.  Something else that bugs -- and I realize that here I risk sounding like Paul Fonoroff or other PC moralizers but I still feel some obligation to complain about - is that of JULIET IN LOVE's director and/or scriptwriter either being a serious victim of Coca-colonialism or guilty of taking prominent product placement to an even greater extreme than the folks who orchestrated the Pringles insertion into the happy ending of Stephen Chow's "King of Comedy".  While commercial sponsorship is very much a part of - and can actually be a source of in-joke amusement with regards to -- Hong Kong movies, this was one case when it became too obvious, illogical and actually disquieting.



My rating for the film:  7.



DVD Information:

Distributed by Mei Ah

The transfer quality is very good - quite sharp and clean for the most part.

Letterboxed

Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks - Dolby and Dolby 5.1 Surround

Subtitles:  Chinese , English, Nil.

9 Chapters

It includes it's own trailer and one for Peace Hotel.

The sub-titles are easy to read.