Sunday, 17 August 2014

Movie Review: Break Up 100 (分手100次)

Next Review: Lucy

To be honest, I have to say that the first half of Break Up 100 is rather boring. The film introduced a lot of irrelevant supporting characters that doesn't provide much to the story other than serving as comic reliefs. Surprisingly, there's a lot of HK movie celebrity cameo appearances throughout the film but none of them are actually compelling or memorable enough to make a deep impression on the viewers. Occasionally, it tries hard to be funny with some rather unusual moments here and there, but nothing seems to work. It feels like the film doesn't have a plot. But just when you're ready to dismiss Break Up 100 as yet another one of those long line of disappointing romantic comedies, things start to improve, when the tone of the film starts to shift to become more serious in the second half of the film.

Break Up 100 is a story about an on-off couple, Sam (Ekin Cheng) and Nam (Chrissie Chau), who have been romantically involved for 8 years. Nam is the more mature and responsible of the two, who often worries about everything, including their future, while Sam is the irresponsible, carefree man-child, who doesn’t worry or think too much about anything. As a result, Nam becomes the dominating and controlling partner who often threatens to break up with Sam, pushing him to change his behaviour. They have already broken up and reconciled 99 times. For 99 times, she insists that he should be the one to apologise. When Sam finally decides to do something useful with his life, Barbara quits her job to support him. Unfortunately, the inevitable 100th break up happens again and this time it comes with serious repercussions and consequences that put the relationship to the test.

The film gives a realistic portrayal of love between Sam and Nam. It carefully avoids most of the cringe-worthy nonsense found in many romantic comedies we've seen in the past. The on-screen chemistry between the leads is convincing enough for the audience to watch them going through life together. Chrissie Chau's acting ability has improved a lot this time around and I believe this is her most mature and engaging performance I've seen so far. On the other hand, Ekin Cheng is convincing enough as the free-spirited childish adult who's willing to change for the sake of his partner.

As the film progresses, it poses some serious questions about relationships: Does true happiness in a relationship come from compromise and obedience or mutual understanding and acceptance? Should we compromise to the extent that we should sacrifice our own identity to become someone else to suit our partner needs?

The film tries to point out one of the major issues in today's relationships: As years goes by, you slowly discover your partner's imperfections and you would likely want your partner to change his/her faults and annoying habits to be the way you want. So you tend to respond by blaming, putting more emphasis on the rights and wrongs, insisting on changes and keep on reinforcing your ways on your partner. Sure, you can help them change their habits and behaviours, but not the core personality that defines the person...even if such changes would be in that person's best interest. In long term, they will start to lose their own personal identity due to overcompensation and it will push them to the point where they don't love themselves anymore. When we feel unappreciated, unaccepted and unloved by someone we hold dear, it’s easy to fall into apathy or despair. We will eventually feel that nothing we did really make a difference, thus losing the ability to love.

While it takes the film quite some time to reach these points, it does closely examine these questions and daringly gives an open ending that leaves its audience with much food for thought. Although Break Up 100 doesn’t have a great script to back its thoughtful premise, it does handles itself quite well by making it not too weepy or melodramatic. It's still worth a watch.

Rating: 6/10

“Love is like an affogato. It’s sweet, yet bitter, and hot, yet cold.” 

Previous Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Next Review: Lucy

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