Summer I Love You

Reviewed by YTSL

It looks to be the rare film indeed that is able to appeal to one’s intellect, heart, soul and the relevant senses.  In my general along with Hong Kong movie viewing experience, it seems that many who try to create such balanced plus attendantly multi-layered and complex works are way more likely to at least partially disappoint than truly delight some or all of their audience.  Perhaps part of me is really tired of encountering multiple representative examples of these noble failures.  In any case, I found myself welcoming -- or at least respecting -- the apparent decisive choice made by first time director plus second time scriptwriter Banny Lo to go all out to solely cater to those of (t)his 2002 effort’s viewers who are willing to suspend their “real world” accumulated disbelief and scientific judgment as a result of their possessing a strong sense of romance plus willingness to indulge those whose job it is to virtually transport people to other, often far more agreeable and usually admittedly fictitious worlds by way of their celluloid products.

Pretty much right from the start, the visually pleasing -- so much so that I am perfectly willing to believe that the William Chang who gets listed as its art consultant is the man best known as one of Wong Kar Wai’s chief collaborators -- SUMMER I LOVE YOU gives evidence of being a work that prizes the willingness to give up much for love.  Indeed, even before its opening credits appear on the screen, the question of “Would you sacrifice your youth for your love” gets posed of this romantic fantasy cum fable of a movie’s viewers by its female protagonist (a woman named Wei Ching whose ICQ moniker is “Lemon Coffee”, and is essayed by Candy Lo).

Should you be inclined to respond to this not necessarily rhetorical query -- which also is prominently featured in the Derek Yee produced effort’s spoiler filled trailer -- with an emphatic “No!”, let me state with utmost certainty that SUMMER I LOVE YOU is going to be one cinematic effort that will NOT be to your taste.  Ditto, and probably even more so, if your reaction were to ask how and why a person might have to plus go about literally sacrificing her or his youth for the one that (s)he loves.  Similarly, those who don’t believe that people -- especially single females (who, as it is, don’t seem inclined to go out all that much even when in their home territory) -- should fly hundreds of miles to a promised idyllic locale to see someone whose existence they had previously only known about via internet chat-room meetings might want to give this film a miss.
This is not least since this is precisely what Wei Ching does following an invitation to visit his (Coconut) Villa in Koh Samui, Thailand, by Lek, a fellow ICQer (portrayed by Richie Ren) who makes as little attempt on and off line to hide his having been paralyzed from the waist down for the past six or seven years as to his being a majorly happy plus largely carefree camper in spite of being a physically disabled individual.  In her (and the movie’s) defense though, Wei Ching does seem to be the kind of person who would be willing to do such on account of the life that she was leading being one that certainly could do with more sun, good company, cheer and a change. After all, as she -- who likes her coffee with lemon (or lime) as well as sugar; hence her choice of ICQ handle -- admitted to the genial boss of a beach resort (whose most regular customers are a elderly couple played by Mona Koo and Jon How, and staff include characters played by Cherry Kong, Morris Rong and Yuth Thongeharogu), she was someone who had not smiled for close to two years now (after a freak car accident that got her condemning herself for killing her two best friends).
Yet another group of viewers who might do well to give SUMMER I LOVE YOU a wide berth are those who are apt to cringe upon coming across such sentences and sentiments as: “You can’t help half heartedly.  You must go all the way”; “We’ll light up your life”; or “Seize the day and enjoy the rest of your life” (All of which are to be found in the English translations of this effort’s largely Cantonese language -- despite the movie’s story being almost entirely set in Thailand -- dialogue).  The same injunction applies to those who aren’t prepared to believe -- at least for the duration of a film -- that love, and the related impulse plus act to care for at least one other human being, can be the answer to many woes (albeit while sometimes inadvertently bringing about other ones).  Additionally, the cosmetic effects that get applied at certain stages of this offering onto the exposed skin of certain key persona(e) most certainly are not going to win this often major tolerance requiring work any (more) fans.
For all of its very visibly possessing a plethora of faults, however, the truth of the matter is that I actually did find enough portions of SUMMER I LOVE YOU to be sufficiently winning and affecting.  Maybe it was the nicely lensed (by Venus Keung and Chan Chi-Ying) picturesque scenery that put me in a particularly forbearing mood.  If this were the case, I am sure that the alternately cheery plus mellow, even if not especially memorable, music (that was composed by Tommy Wai) played a part in affecting me in this way as well.  Whatever the factors involved are though, there is no guarantee that they will also bestow onto others this kind of mind frame.  Accordingly, I wish to make it clear that your reaction and mileage may well vary from mine with regards to this Filmko production that: additionally features an on screen appearance by one of Hong Kong cinema’s at least two Joe Cheungs (as Dr. Lai); and I did like quite a bit more than the at least equally set amid beauty and the sea “Summer Holiday” that also had Richie Ren as its lead male.

My rating for the film: 6.5