Story: New laws in Hong Kong prohibit smoking in certain public spaces. Therefore, smokers are forced to assemble at certain locations
for their 5-minutes break. The advantage of that is that you meet new people and can share nice stories. On one of such occasions beauty parlor
saleswoman Cherie (Miriam Yeung) makes the acquaintance of the guy Jimmy (Shawn Yue), who is a few years younger than her. He has just split up
with his girlfriend as she already knows through the rumors spread by her smoking-buddies. The two go out without any commitment and with time
get closer. However, Cherie has already a boyfriend and so she soon has to come to a decision how serious her feelings really are. Jimmy on the
other hand doesn't think much about it and simply tries to have some fun in his childish manner. Still, as time progresses he also realizes, that
his feelings for Cherie could be a lot more serious than he first thought.
Review: Smokers really don't have an easy life. They aren't allowed to smoke whereever they want, cigarettes get more expensive on an almost
daily basis and still... if I were to be asked they should have it even worse! Yes, as a convinced nonsmoker I might drive away one third of my readers
at this point. And this even though smokers are actually a lot more tolerant towards nonsmokers than vice versa. But what's the reason for that, I
wonder... Anyway, I would have avoided this film for sure if smells were already implemented in TV output. But the way it is the prevailing
positive reviews could make me curious enough to risk a look and what should I say: "Love in a Puff" is a lighthearted romantic comedy that most
of all scores with its great dialogues. At some points the plot may be lacking and all in all the story also isn't really significant but making up for
that this is maybe the most entertaining romantic comedy out of Hong Kong since "Needing You"!
The ban on smoking at certain locations is something american readers should also be familiar with, at least in some states. Director Pang Ho-Cheung sheds some light on the sociological aspect of smoking and the relationships that are built up by it. This is one of the advantages of smoking (and in my book the only apparent one), namely that it entails possibilities of interacting with others. Isn't it much easier for a smoker to start a conversation with a girl he likes? That's surely enviable. Even though you also have to keep in mind that this very girl, no matter how beautiful or interesting she might be, also has the bad breath that goes hand in hand with being a smoker... But that's exactly what's getting the two main characters closer to each other (no, not the bad breath!). In a relaxing environment all sorts of rumors and horror stories are told and as a viewer you get the feeling of being part of that group, too, - even as a nonsmoker - thanks to the natural directing! This worry-free and lighthearted interaction between the different individuals makes getting access to the film very easy and also makes the characters win over our heart in no time.
It's also badly needed for us to be interested in the characters because the story itself doesn't deliver enough material to fully carry a movie. The easygoing way the relationship unfolds strongly reminds us of an art-house movie, however. "Love in a Puff" doesn't want to formulate a deeper meaning behind all that is depicted, though, and instead strives to draw two individuals' life in their spare time and thus always sticks to what's happening in such a natural fashion that you get the feeling of experiencing the city's pulse yourself. The Hong Kong lit by warm neon colors we are shown here immediately invites you to go out and you just feel good looking at the protagonists strolling through the nightly and lively streets. Therefore, the movie develops its very own dynamic quality which makes you soon forget the lacking story. Instead we can fully concentrate on the two main characters and accompany them on their romantic journey.
Miriam Yeung ("Dumplings", "Dring-Drank-Drunk") plays a more grown-up and mature woman this time than what we were used to see from her in her former romantic movies and it fits her quite well. She brings a certain comlexity into the story since she already has a boyfriend for five years and furthermore is a few years older than Jimmy which is even a bit more problematic in Asia than it is for us Westerners. Shawn Yue ("Invisible Target", "Shamo") plays a somewhat childish guy, however, in no way as jarring and extroverted as we are used to see from him normally. This makes it enjoyable to follow the unfolding relationship, even the more as we don't really know where it will lead in the end. Director Pang also scatters some small interviews throughout his film which center around smoking, but also love, which is supposed to give the movie more of a documentary style. In the course there are a few honest things said about love so that, along with the french-style inspired music, you can never be sure if there isn't more profoundness behind the movie than you would assume at first glance.
One thing, though, always makes this slight art-house touch of exploration take a backseat - and that's the humor. The dialgues are written in a wonderfully funny way so that you always have to laugh out loud because of the situation comedy, even though unfortunately these moments aren't to be found as numerously towards the end. Since the two protagonists make for an odd couple you can never be sure whether the chemistry between the two couldn't have been better, but it's nonetheless interesting and entertaining to watch their relationship evolve. "Love in a Puff" is a lighthearted romantic movie that is by far not as wacky as many others of that kind and takes itself serious when it has to and doesn't do so when it shouldn't. An entertaining romantic comedy should be just like that. Loveable characters, funny dialogues and a good amount of love that is supplemented by a pinch of warm, dreamy atmosphere. When I later read that the Film is by Pang Ho-Cheung, who was already responsible for "Beyond our Ken" or the fantastic "Isabella", I realized why "Love in a Puff" could strike chords for me that romantic comedies normally can't. The best romantic comedy out of Hong Kong for years.