My Ex-Wife’s Wedding (翻叮我老婆)


My Ex-Wife’s Wedding starts off in romcom fashion when its two photogenic leads get trapped in an overturned car on the way to their wedding. Despite the danger to health and happiness, they pledge their everlasting love, embrace in a cloud of taffeta, and wait for the ambulance.

But as stories go, any wedding that starts off with a crash is bound to end with one, and before two years are out, the couple is ready to call it quits. Yong (Chen) wastes no time in finding a replacement in his coworker Hui (Goh), but ex Xiaohong (Yuan) proves to be a distraction. She continues to make regular appearances at her old flat, mostly to retrieve shoes from her Imelda Marcos-sized collection, and to show up at the nuptials of mutual friends.

Yong and Hui, eager to get Xiaohong on with her life and out of theirs, set her up with Qi (Lu). The bumbling photographer is the opposite of Yong; he is the proverbial perfect guy who, though lacking in sophistication and diamond-cut cheekbones, makes up for his deficiencies by not being a jerk. As Yong’s plan takes off, however, he finds himself questioning his own lingering affections for his ex-wife.

It’s a narrative that fuels many a romantic comedy, except this movie is not a romantic comedy. You’ll be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given the plot and promotional material. But it’s never quite clear what this movie wants to be. It has romantic and comedic moments but these do not elevate the film into the fun and lighthearted. Instead, it’s weighed down by dark, moody shots – of Yong fingering his wife’s shoes, of Xiaohong staring dejectedly into the void, of nautilus staircases spiraling down the abyss – that work better in a music video.

Indeed, this film belongs to the aspirational genre of Mainland films and functions in part as a showcase; look at the luxury shoes and flat and cars and personalities. There’s nothing inconspicuous about the characters’ consumption, and don’t you forget.

All this looking detracts from both lead characters though, who are played as well as the script allows. Chen is tremendously versatile and can create a character who is at once cheeky, bruised, sensitive, arrogant, and insecure, but the film doesn’t allow for that. You’re never really sure what brought the couple together in the first place and have only hints at what drives them apart. Xiaohong sneaks a jab at her ex late in the movie, blaming him for putting his career and interests before hers. Unfortunately, the revelation comes too late to be explored in a meaningful way. As consolation, at least Yuan gets to act her age. She is strongest in the closing sequence and manages to display an emotionally resilient woman who is very much at home in today’s China, regardless of who’s buying the shoes.

Released: 2010
Alt Title: 跟我的前妻談戀愛
Prod: Daniel Yu Wai-Kwok 余偉國, Kim Sung-Su 金性洙
Dir: Lee Kung-Lok 李公樂
Writer: Szeto Kam-Yuen 司徒錦源, Nicholl Tang Nik-Kei 鄧力奇, Zhu Wen 朱文
Cast: Chen Kun 陳坤, Yuan Quan 袁泉, Lu Yi 陸毅, Debbie Goh 吳天瑜, TEI , Li Geng 李耕
Time: 89 min
Lang: Mandarin
Country: Mainland China
Reviewed: 2013