Desire of the Heart

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 January, 2009, 12:00am

Desire of the Heart

Ge You, Vivian Wu Junmei, Yuen Qiu, Guo Tao, Jacqueline Li Xiaolu, Geng Le

Director: Ma Liwen

A box office hit on the mainland late last year, this romantic comedy-drama shows that when it comes to movies, it's definitely a case of one country, two systems.

In Hong Kong, female-centric tales with no martial arts, no special effects and only a hint of sex would have a hard time attracting ticket buyers. But on the mainland it's a different story, and this quintet of love sagas featuring some of the nation's biggest stars struck a chord that propelled it to the top.

Attractively shot in Dalian, Liaoning province, the production depicts an idealised bourgeois lifestyle. The five chapters are cross-cut for no apparent reason other than, perhaps, to mask their uneven quality.

They are inhabited by a compendium of characters including a gold digger (Jacqueline Li) out to snare her rich boss (Duan Yihong); a rich girl (Song Jia) falling for a naive chef (Li Chen) who has no idea of her wealth; and a 30-year-old virgin (Mei Ting) who refuses to 'do it' with her fiance (Geng Le) until she has a ring on her finger.

More interesting are the travails of two divorcees, one dumped by her husband and another who did the dumping.

Best of all, though, is the story of the second divorcee, a gutsy businesswoman (Yuen Qiu of Kung Fu Hustle fame) who falls for a swindler (Crazy Stone's Guo Tao).

Featuring actors known more for their humour than their looks, the relationship manages to elicit genuine emotion and provides Desire of the Heart with a few glimmers of just how heartfelt desires can be.