It Had To Be You (後備甜心)

it had to be you

It doesn’t have to be this movie. There are others out there. Just keep looking. You’ll find the right one. Don’t settle. Really, it’s not you; it’s this movie. I don’t mean to be too harsh; It Had to Be You is not awful, but you’re better cozying up with another film, one that has genuine laughs and warmth. In comparison, this one takes a mildly interesting rom-com plot and turns it into a laborious grind.

Like much of the movie, the main characters aren’t unagreeable so much as they are dull. Jack (Ekin Cheng) and Jill (Karena Lam) work together at an upscale eatery, he as a chef and she as a hostess. Their initial encounter doesn’t go so well, which of course means they’re perfect for each other. They both also happen to be the third wheel in a relationship and hold out hope that their partners will come around.

Lam is supposed to glow as Jill, and her character possesses a few idiosyncrasies that are blatant attempts to be endearing. She takes her imaginary dog for walks, a scene that in ordinary life would have you think twice about starting a relationship. But filmmakers would rather you see how adorable she is and how wrong her boyfriend (Hu Bing) is to string her along. Jack shows his fun, sensitive side by playing along with the dog trick, so that makes two completely likable and inoffensive characters.

The problem is that none of this draws you closer to them. Jill adds a deeper dimension to her otherwise lifeless personality when she shares scenes with her deaf mother (Kiki Sheung), but little else lights up the movie as it trudges towards its foregone conclusion. Jack and Jill’s partners don’t stand out in any way and remain vague figures in spite of attempts to draw them out. Other supporting actors, such as Benz Hui as Jack’s cousin and Eric Tsang as another co-worker, also fail to contribute energy to this sluggish picture. When Tsang fades so far into the background, you know the movie is barely limping by.

“I’m Willing” (我願意) by Faye Wong:

Released: 2005
Prod: Eric Tsang 曾志偉; Claudie Chung 鍾珍
Dir: Maurice Li 李明文; Andrew Loo 盧弘軒
Writer: Theresa Tang 鄧潔明
Cast: Karena Lam 林嘉欣; Ekin Cheng 鄭伊健; Eric Tsang 曾志偉; Hu Bing 胡兵; Bobo Chan 陳文媛; Nicola Cheung 張燊悅; Yan Ng 吳日言; Derek Tsang 曾國祥; Fire Lee 李家榮; Lui Kit 呂潔; Crystal Tin 田蕊妮; Chin Kar-Lok 錢嘉樂; Hayama Hiro葉山豪; Hui Siu-Hung 許紹雄; Kiki Sheung 商天娥
Time: 93 min
Lang: Cantonese
Country: Hong Kong
Reviewed: 2015