Story: Tokyo: Yao (Chen Bo-lin) goes to Tokyo to study drawing, and because he believes that cartoons have
a better chance of success there than in his homeland Taiwan. Although he makes friends with another student,
Yuka (Yui Ichikawa), he still has problems adapting to the different culture he is now living in. However, one day,
by accident, he runs into female artist Michiko (Misaki Ito), who has just been dumped by her boyfriend. Yao slowly
starts to approach her in secret, because he seems to have fallen in love with her.
Taipei: A-su (Mavis Fan) asks Tecchan (Ryo Kase) for help setting up a shelf. Even though the two are seperated by a language barrier, they soon become friends. But Tecchan has to understand that his further advances are blocked by A-su, because she just had a breakup. Since A-su hopes to get another chance with her ex-boyfriend, she sends Tecchan to scout him. The Japanese guy willingly helps his new friend, although he knows that nothing serious will evolve from that friendship for him...
Shanghai: The Japanese Shuhei (Takashi Tsukamoto) finds accommodation at a family's home, who owns a small shop. He wants to learn more about life in China, but he soon misses home. The daughter of the shop owner, Yun (Li Xiaolu), makes friends with Shuhei and apparently is very interested in Japan. However, in fact she has secret feelings for Shuhei. But she never shows them as she knows that Shuhei will soon leave the country...
Review: "About Love" connects three beautiful short stories about - who would have thought - love, and delivers it
in an appealing wrapping. The film is romantic, warm and doesn't feel contrived at all. The three love stories aren't
just loosely linked with one another, but instead are united by some fine, but effective threads. For one thing there
is the motif of a broken heart, an unfulfilled love and the blooming of a new one, which at some times leads to a
Happy End and at others doesn't. We also have the motif of loneliness and reorientation of an individual in a
foreign country. Or what about the language barrier that proves to be a more or less serious problem in the different
stories. Apart from that, the stories are also joined by several persons, that we are introduced to only on a side
note, e.g. during phone calls or through letters. But then in an other story they suddenly stand in the plot's focus.
In the end, every short story can radiate its own special kind of charm, but in their overall tone, and with the many cross references, they can add to an impressively well-working whole, which can arouse a warm feeling in the viewer's heart.
The three directors responsible for the short stories are by far everything but no-names, and the actors also should seem familiar from some other Asian movies. Furthermore, it's interesting that the movies keep rising in their level of quality, which makes the "Shanghai"-Segment the most successful and beautiful work. Nevertheless, the first story by director Ten Shimoyama ("Shinobi: Heart under Blade", "Muscle Heat") also gives us a nice insight view on the life of a guy, who has to struggle with life in a foreign country, and always finds himself feeling lonely. Until he meets a girl, eventually, who is plagued by the some solitariness, even though her reason for it is a different one, namely a broken heart. The shy way Yao approaches the girl with some comic drawings, which he attaches to her door, has something innocent and dreamy about it. The warm lighting of the scenes, as well as the quiet storytelling, that never becomes boring, though, and Chen Bo-lin ("Silk") in the main lead, all make for a nice love story, that provides the most positive ending of the three stories.
The tale by director Yee Chin-yen ("Blue Gate Crossing") is maybe the most gloomy in tone, but it also delivers the most humor. A-su and Tecchan have some serious problems with their communication, which leads to a really funny scene, in which Tecchan tries to tell A-su, what her ex-boyfriend told him when he asked him if he wanted to meet A-su again. Director Yee oftentimes leaves his two actors in front of the camera withouth any cuts, which demands a lot of the actors' abilities. But fortunately they can meet the requirements of those scenes and perform very well. The love story possibly also depicts the most interesting one, as A-su uses Tecchan only as someone to comfort her and help her to free herself of the pain of her broken heart. Yet, Tecchan is fine with that and provides A-su with what she needs. A story that never aims for a Happy End, but which nonetheless portrays a nice friendship, that has developed from unusual circumstances, and which one day, even though unlikely, may blossom into a little bit of something more.
The story in Shanghai from director Zhang Yibai ("Curiosity kills the Cat") has the biggest heart, although Takashi Tsukamoto's performance is often a bit too cold. Maybe that's only because of the fact that Li Xiaolu ("Blood Brothers") absolutely overshadows her partner with her subtle and great acting?!
The colors in the Shanghai segment all look very cozy and the film offers a nice story, which heads for a bittersweet ending, which is by far the most moving in "About Love". A worthy finale which also shows that Zhang is arguably the best director of the three. He experiments with different camera angles, yet gives his film mostly tranquil pictures, which give the story the necessary framework to unfold its heart.
When the credits roll over the screen, eventually, we are left with a soft smile on our face and a warm feeling in our heart. The stories may be simple and quiet most of the time, but they are told with great care and a keen eye for what's important. We also pretty soon get aware of the fact that we only get to see a small excerpt from the lives of the protagonists, which is why we actually don't have any strong desire to stay in the different tales for a while longer. Even though it would have been nice, of course.
The contributions of the three directors are nice to look at and in terms of their motives they work on the same level, even though luckily every one of them approaches things from a different angle. The way the different stories are linked together, in contrast to so many other movies that work too much with chance and coincidences, feels comfortable and credible, as far as this is possible with such a movie.
"About Love" is a romantic movie that has unjustly been overlooked by many. The movie depicts cultural universals and shows that love is an cross-cultural motif. Maybe this isn't anything new, but it is portrayed pretty well. A heart-warming work from three reputed directors, that fans of the genre shouldn't miss.