Needing You (孤男寡女)

needing you

It’s a rare thing that a Hong Kong romance leaves a smile on my face and a little flutter in my heart. Rarer still when the heroine starts by whining and whimpering over a cheating boyfriend. Kinki (Sammi Cheng) makes a less than favorable impression on her first day in the office, which culminates in a frenzied attack on the ladies’ toilet with a bottle of disinfectant. She drops further in her boss Andy’s (Andy Lau) estimation when she spies him slurping up a bowl of noodles topped with bull penis and proceeds to lose it.

But on the whole, Kinki’s a good person, and in fact, her generosity and strong work ethic quickly overcome her oddball traits. Even the surly Andy finds himself warming to her, despite her (Cheng’s) persistent inability to enunciate like an adult. When a business trip to the Mainland goes awry, he scours the city for her, and later at a feast with potential clients, he gorges on liquor and offal so that she doesn’t have to suffer the after effects.

The movie throws up stories ripe for cliché, but it also does its best to avoid or at least underplay them, and that is what makes Needing You such a satisfying journey. The romance between Kinki and Andy meanders its way from A to B, occasionally tromping over rocky or overgrown paths or just stopping to admire the view. Rather than seizing on a chance to take their relationship to the next logical place, i.e. a hotel bedroom, for example, they return to Hong Kong in a most anti-climactic way as ordinary colleagues.

The slow-brewing romance gets muddled by various exes and suitors who, true to life, complicate Kinki and Andy’s feelings for one another. The reappearance of Andy’s ex-wife Fiona (Fiona Leung) precipitates a few shifts in character. She plays matchmaker for Kinki, just as she decides to jettison her emotional leech of a boyfriend, and pairs her with a dashing tech mogul, Roger (Raymond Wong). This forces Andy to face up to his own neurotic tendencies.

His crisis of confidence is made more enjoyable by a full throttled parody of Lau’s star making gangster classic Moment of Romance, which saw the young actor blaze through the streets of Hong Kong on a big, bad motorbike and into the heart of the pretty, rich girl. Familiarity with the film is not essential but certainly elevates the viewing experience.

The storytelling along with sharp and nuanced performances by the stars are more than enough to recommend this film, however. The script leaves a lot unsaid and relies on Cheng and Lau to bring a couple of high strung, sometimes inarticulate and poky basketcases to sweet, vivid, charming life, and they do with enchanting results.

“Love Line” (感情線上) – theme song by Sammi Cheng:

Released: 2000
Prod: Johnnie To 杜琪峰; Wai Ka-Fai 韋家輝; Tiffany Chen 陳明英
Dir: Johnnie To 杜琪峰; Wai Ka-Fai 韋家輝
Writer: Wai Ka-Fai 韋家輝; Yau Nai-Hoi 游乃海
Cast: Andy Lau 劉德華; Sammi Cheng 鄭秀文; Fiona Leung 梁藝齡; Raymond Wong 黃浩然; Hui Siu-Hung 許紹雄; Gabriel Harrison 海俊傑; Florence Kwok 郭少芸; Lam Suet 林雪; Henry Yu 于洋; Sam Sam 森森
Time: 104 min
Lang: Cantonese, some Mandarin
Country: Hong Kong
Reviewed: 2014