(Fei chang wan mei)
Film Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Jilted Bride-to-Be Schemes to Get Groom Back in Wacky Romantic Comedy
Sophie (Ziyi Zhang) is eagerly anticipating tying the knot with the man of her dreams, Dr. Jeff Li (Ji-sub So), a handsome surgeon with a flourishing medical practice. After all, in settling on this eligible bachelor, the dutiful daughter had merely heeded the sage advice of her domineering mother (Ji Wang) that “Men must choose the right career and women must marry the right guy.”
So, with an engagement ring already on her finger, Sophie has been carefully planning the perfect wedding with the help of her intermeddling mom. And with the big day a couple of months away, they’ve already completed most of the arrangements by now, including purchasing a wedding gown and sending out the invites
But then, the beautiful bride-to-be’s blossoming fairytale turns into a neverending nightmare when Jeff decides to dump her for one of his patients, and not just any patient, but one who happens to be a very famous actress. Adding insult to injury, suffering Sophie suddenly sees Joanna’s (Bingbing Fan) face everywhere, whether on TV, at the theater or splashed across billboards all over town.
This predicament makes the poor girl feel so humiliated that she can’t even bring herself to inform her mother of the embarrassing development. Furthermore, she’s not inclined to let her fickle fiancé off the hook easily, especially when another one of her mom’s many sayings comes to mind, namely, “A woman in love is foolish, but a woman rejected is crazy.” Accordingly, Sophie starts stalking her ex with hopes not only of winning him back, but in time that the impending nuptials might still go off without a hitch.
That is the straightforward premise of Sophie’s Revenge, a rollicking romantic comedy evocative of the age-old adage “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” But if you think this picture simply revolves around your typical, old-fashioned love triangle, think again, for its deceptively-pretzled plot proves far more intricate than you ever expected.
First of all, the play-by-play of this flashback flick is narrated in elliptical fashion by the title character, a creative artist with a vivid imagination. She informs the audience at the outset that she made a stupid mistake a couple years ago. Today, in order to help other women avoid committing the same blunder, she’s publishing “Handbook of Love,” an illustrated comic book chronicling a presumably foolproof method to win your man back, employing everything from forgiveness to nostalgic reminders to extreme makeovers to jealousy to befriending the enemy.
Sophie enlists the assistance of several confederates in her endeavor to win Jeff’s heart again, starting with a Greek chorus comprised of her two best friends, Lucy (Ruby Lin) and Lily (Chen Yao). But because the former is a carefree bohemian while the latter’s a happily-married career woman, their competing inclinations are often at odds.
Far more effective is Sophie’s alliance with Joanna’s just-jilted boyfriend, Gorden (Peter Ho), a forlorn photographer who’s quite the hunk in his own right. The two enter a pact to even the score with their exes, by executing a series of strategic stunts designed to sabotage the budding relationship. Of course, as Robert Burns said, “The best laid plans often go awry,” so don’t be surprised to see this scheme frequently frustrated en route.
Written and directed by Yimeng Jin, Sophie's Revenge is a delightful romantic romp which deliberately winds its way to a cleverly-concealed resolution which this critic never anticipated. Shot on location in Beijing and Tianjin, the film feels ever so fresh, between its novel employment of a gaudy, citrus color scheme and its intermittent resort to animated diversions during the protagonist’s mind-wandering dream sequences.
Zany and hilarious, yet simultaneously touching and thought-provoking, Sophie serves up revenge as a thoroughly-satisfying cinematic dish not to be missed.
Excellent (4 stars)
In Mandarin and English with subtitles.
Running time: 107 Minutes
Studio: EDKO Film
Thursday, December 2, 2010
(Fei chang wan mei)