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Original Title:
Xin buliao qing

Hong Kong 1993

Drama, Romance

Derek Yee

Lau Ching-Wan
Anita Yuen
Paul Chu
Carina Lau
Fung Bo-Bo
Carrie Ng
Jamie Luk
Tats Lau

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C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri

Story: The musician and jazz music lover Kit (Lau Ching-Wan) is fed up with the music business. His songs aren't played because they are not as commercial as they need to be and his girlfriend, Pop-Diva Tracy (Carina Lau), doesn't support him either. Kit starts to see everybody as his enemy and eventually breaks up with his girlfriend. He withdraws into a poor neighborhood, where he finds himself living next to the band around Min (Anita Yuen).
At night Kit plays in various clubs and even watches some of his neighbors' performances. In return for money, they play all the songs the audience asks for. At some point Min approaches Kit because of his saxophone skills and the two start to become friends. With her fun-loving nature, Min manages the impossible and drives away Kits depressive mood. He vigorously starts writing a song again and, because he thinks she has got a lot of talent, he wants to persuade Min to get started as a singer.
Everything seems to be working out just fine for two, even Min's mother finally accepts Kit as her daughter's boyfriend. But suddenly Min has a setback with her health-condition. Since her childhood she has been suffering from leucemia…

Review: :It's the familiar story about the disease-of-the-week, which really surprises the viewer, as the rest of the movie is actually a life-affirming work about love, friendship and the joy of life. The reason why "C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri" is nevertheless working out rather nicely, is because the movie has been well produced, the cast is quite impressive and Derek Yee ("One Nite in Mongkok", "Lost in Time") proves that he has a knack for bringing credible drama on screen.

Actually, you can't really be mad at the movie. Even though two-thirds of it are supposed to be an almost bright, happy romance flick, when suddenly Min's disease turns up from nowhere, and everything starts to get quite sad. A lot of things could have gone wrong with this, but fortunately Derek Yee rather goes in for credible characters to tell his story, than quick and cheap tears. Without wanting to spoil the end, you shouldn't expect a happy end. But we're already used to this by Hong Kong movies. Even at the end, the movie is not that sad, because it still has its life-affirming undertone. But this doesn't mean that "C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri" wouldn't be able to fill one or two eyes with tears.

As usual, Lau Ching-Wan gives a great performance as the depressive musician, who shuts himself away and thinks that everybody is against him. Disappointed by his life and his career, he just sleeps the entire day. Only the incredible cheerful and adventurous Min manages to pull him out of his misery.
Anita Yuen ("Till Death Do Us Part") really nails her part. Min is a very positive thinking and active person, who is never at loss for words. She could have easily become one of those annoying girlfriends, but Yuen knows how to avoid this. She manages to let the audience get carried away immediately and she really knows how to work with her charm. Her positive attitude towards life catches on the heavy-hearted Kit and the two of them make a wonderful couple. Meanwhile we're already guessing that Min's optimism originates from her tragic past. As later on this past catches up with her, we can see a more emotional and more depressed side of her.

Still being more or less newcomers at that time, this movie turned out to be the breakthrough for the two leading actors. But the supporting roles are quite impressive, too. At this point especially Paul Chu should be mentioned. As Min's uncle/father-substitute he provides a friendly touch to the band. The rest of the cast also helps making the persons look as if they were taken right out from real life and the group seems as warm and loving as a normal big family. Only Carina Lau ("Infernal Affairs 2") as the pop-singer and Kit's old flame seems a bit shallow.
As the movie is in some way a bit about music, too, we can also hear a lot of it. It reaches from Jazz/Swing to traditional Peking Opera and underlines the atmosphere quite nicely. But those who have no use for this kind of music, won't be annoyed by it either.

Above all else Derek Yee focuses on life's positive sides, but in a bit of a extreme way, he also insists on showing us the negative aspects.
Min's opinion about her life in poverty is just one of the movie's numerous hidden statements. She doesn't envy other people for what they've got and what she doesn't, she's simply happy with what life has to offer to her. This movie is a bittersweet affirmation of life, and especially the last scene shows us in a very emotional way, where the movie gets its title from.
What a pity that the sudden turn into a tear-jerking melodrama, just doesn't entirely convince us. The rest of the movie, on the other hand, knows how to use discreetly scattered feisty humor, charming moments, two good leading actors and an incredibly optimistic attitude towards life, to win us over.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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