Cause We're So Young

Reviewed by YTSL

Around the time that I reached the 100 mark in terms of my post-1980 Hong Kong movie viewing, I shared my worry that I would soon run out of watchable works to check out with a vastly more experienced Hong Kong filmophile.  This friend’s reaction was to assure me that this fear of mine was unfounded.  Some 500 movies on, I can attest to his having been oh so right; and this not least since I continue to find what I think it not overly generous to consider to be veritable -- even if small -- gems in the midst of the diverse as well as surprisingly large number selection of cinematic offerings that come from a hardly humongous home territory of less than 7 million people.

To my mind, this emotionally wide-ranging romantic comedy-drama -- which looks to be the least successful at the local box office of all of director (cum scriptwriter plus frequent supporting actor) Vincent Kuk’s worthy works -- is one such apparently overlooked (minor) jewel.  Perhaps this is on account of CAUSE WE’RE SO YOUNG’s basic set up -- one that places a trio of single, male buddies and apartment-mates at its center in much the same way as the likes of “Tom, Dick and Hairy” -- not being all that novel.  Similarly, the casting of youthful members of the Cantopop world -- i.e., singers Leo Koo (who turns in a wonderfully sensitive performance here as well as in “Task Force”) and Edmund So (in what remains one of only two film appearances by him) plus musician-composer Mark Lui (whose musical compositions include the enchanting scores of “The Lovers” and “Green Snake”) -- in an effort whose focus is on the love quests and travails of twenty-something year olds can make the 1997 Gordon Chan production appear to be just one more of a crowd of attempts to emulate the likes of Joe Ma’s popular “Feel 100%” offerings.
Edmund So and Mark Lui
In fact, the possibility seems very high that those who elect to check out this cameo filled (including by Andy Lau along with Jan Lamb, Tats Lau, Law Kar Ying, Lee Lik Chi and Lee Siu Kei) -- plus pop culture reference heavy -- movie will discover that it arguably offers a less frivolous outlook and approach to its admittedly familiar general subject matter than those two more well known works.  This is not to say that CAUSE WE’RE SO YOUNG does not possess the kind of moments, occasions and spectacles that attest to its protagonists being truly youthful beings (And of these, the most silly may well be that which had the characters portrayed by Mark Lui (Paul is the professional deejay who’s the most playboyish of the movie’s three main males) and Nicola Cheung (Yung Yung is the lively lass who Paul finds himself uncommonly attracted to) playing a drinking game that involved Hello Kitty, Keroppi and Snoopy in a ritzy restaurant; though a visit to a night club -- whose hostesses include those who had been wishfully named after the likes of Rosamund Kwan and Carina Lau! -- comes close).  Seemingly against the odds however, it is often admirably able to use many of them to make rather touching, if not mature, points regarding the nature of those who are not (yet) jaded with life and the alternately bitter plus sweet romantic experiences it can offer up.
Leo Koo, Amy Cheung and Kathy Chow
Take one of the key scenes in which CAUSE WE’RE SO YOUNG distinguishes itself in such a manner for me: Specifically, that which has Leo Koo’s Au Ka Chuen breaking down and inconsolably weeping in a way that threatened to break my heart after realizing that the object of his affection did not perceive him in the way that he had hoped that she would.  At that dramatic juncture in the not always so serious film, this (re)viewer was not apt to forget that the first, rather superficial seeming, thing that she had learnt about this surprisingly -- in light of his being blessed with good looks and an attractively unassuming personality --inexperienced player of the game called love pertained to his being a Coke can and model car collector.  However, she was apt to be of the opinion that this facet of his character in no way trivialized the person and being of the graphic designer by trade.  Indeed, the supplied knowledge that this boy-man filled up his spare time by doing such -- plus was an expert computer gamer -- actually served to saliently underscore how much he had been counting on the woman he (thought he) had been courting to change, and add quality to, his life.
Nicola Chueng and Gigi Lai
Lest it not be readily apparent: Despite his screen time not being significantly more than that of Mark Lui or Edmund So (whose staid Choi character is the least interesting of the three principal ones, and ditto re his relationship with Gigi Lai’s “An Autumn’s Tale”-loving Mimi vis a vis that of the others in this offering), Leo Koo -- whose lack of film appearances I am having some difficulty understanding -- easily steals the show from his co-stars.  In much the same way, Kathy Chow (who plays an alluringly mature femme is known to the movie’s main personalities as Mrs. Chan) gives a performance in CAUSE WE’RE SO YOUNG that outshines those of the other females (including Amy Cheung, whose character has the same first name as the actress) who have significant parts to play in the (love) lives of Chuen, Paul and Choi.  At the very least, she it was who looks to have conclusively demonstrated what a “real” -- as opposed to merely (still) budding -- woman is, and why such a being is liable to occupy the substantial amount of a (heterosexual) man’s time that was alleged to be the case early on in this engaging work.

My rating for the film: 7.5