2 Become 1 (天生一對)

2 become 1

2 Become 1’s greatest value is as a public service announcement for breast cancer awareness. And inasmuch as I favor helping women recognize the importance of regular checkups and anything that lessens the stigma of breast cancer, I heartily endorse this movie. It shouldn’t feel as bold as it does, but it’s a rarity in a Hong Kong film landscape that tends to skirt around such concrete issues, especially those facing women. So kudos to this film for not only including a female character with breast cancer but for making it, and not a daffy romance, the central issue.

That’s not to say love isn’t in the air, or that the movie isn’t daffy. 2 Become 1 still qualifies as a romance, and it’s through this angle that Bingo (Miriam Yeung), an uptight marketer, finds out she has the disease. She and Vincent (Richie Ren) spot each other twice in one night and promptly end up in bed together, but just long enough for him to feel her up and discover a lump. She doesn’t know he’s a doctor, however, and assumes he’s a pervert. Nevertheless, she heeds his warning and gets herself checked out.

When her tests come back positive, Bingo goes through various stages of grief, though not always in the prescribed order. At various points, she accepts her diagnosis with a positive attitude, tries to reason her way to better health, and decides she’d rather just end it all. Yeung captures Bingo’s conflicted emotions at critical moments – when she first learns she has cancer and then finds Vincent hanging around in the waiting room, when she tries to tell her boss so that she can take sick leave, when she reconnects with a lost love under trying circumstances. But she’s not skilled enough of an actress to stitch her dramatic scenes with her comedic ones, and Bingo ends up being an inconsistent and not always empathetic character. A relationship she handles relatively well is the one Bingo has with her family, where there’s plenty of talking but little communication, and Yeung does a better job balancing her comedic tendencies with the subject matter.

Unfortunately, the movie takes an unnecessary turn south with Ren’s character. Not content to leave him in a supporting role, Vincent gets a ridiculous subplot that trivializes Bingo’s story. His initial experience with her left him so traumatized, on level with 9/11 and the Indian Ocean tsunami survivors, that he’s gone flaccid. He inserts himself back into Bingo’s life not out of concern for her so much as he believes that dating her will help him overcome his erectile dysfunction.

That is clearly done for laughs, as is a scene where Bingo’s fey friend helps her do a self-exam. The humor doesn’t stand out but has its uses in a society that isn’t comfortable talking so openly about breast cancer. It helps also that Yeung and Ren tackle the subject without reservation. Still, I probably would have enjoyed the movie more if attempted to treat the story in a more personal manner. Too often the script reads like a public health department info sheet and checklist, and if that’s what they’re aiming for, I might as well have watched an actual PSA. At least that’s shorter.

“Fated” (天生注定) by Miriam Yeung and Richie Ren:

“You’ll Shine Again” by Justin Lo:

“A Song a Day” by Justin Lo, and my favorite part of the movie:

Released: 2006
Prod: Johnnie To 杜琪峰
Dir: Law Wing-Cheong 羅永昌
Writer: Andrew Fung 馮志強
Cast: Miriam Yeung 楊千嬅; Richie Ren 任賢齊; Jo Kuk 谷祖琳; Guo Tao 郭濤; Victoria Wu 鄔玉君; Justin Lo 側田; Maggie Siu 邵美琪; Chun Wong 秦煌; Lily Li 李麗麗; Ai Wai 艾威; Florence Kwok 郭少芸; Gordon Lam 林家棟; Fung Hak-On 馮克安; Eddie Cheung 張兆輝; Hui Siu-Hung 許紹雄
Time: 97 min
Lang: Cantonese
Country: Hong Kong
Reviewed: 2015