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Chinese language cinema

Film review: L for Love, L for Lies Too – Stephy Tang ponders breakup in off-kilter romcom

Patrick Kong trades cliched tropes for a mixed bag of gags

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 December, 2016, 1:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 10:09am

2.5/5 stars

No one quite knows what to expect of the latest romantic comedy from producer-screenwriter-director Patrick Kong Pak-leung after his most celebrated screen pairing – real-life couple Alex Fong Lik-sun and Stephy Tang Lai-yan – broke up in March after 10 years together and co-starring in four films for Kong, including last year’s Anniversary. Without Fong this relationship drama feels more than a little adrift.

The thematic sequel to L for Love, L for Lies (2008) revolves around Bo (Tang), a sweet but unfulfilled thirty-something. Passed over for a promotion that goes to a younger colleague and seeing little prospect of tying the knot with Sun (Wilfred Lau Ho-lung), her apathetic boyfriend of seven years, Bo is the subject of constant consternation from her difficult mother (Elaine Jin Yan-ling), a successful pop singer.

Film review: Anniversary – Alex Fong, Stephy Tang back for Patrick Kong romance

And then, on the night that she finds Sun cheating on her, Bo befriends Louis (Louis Cheung Kai-chung), a professional swindler who ends up recruiting her to join his entourage. As Bo juggles her heartbreak with a new practice in elaborate fraud, the oddly unromantic film proves a grab bag that offers everything from family melodrama and an extended gambling scene to a surprise burst of violence.

Tang’s orthodox turn provides dramatic contrast to the film debut of recent Miss Hong Kong Louisa Mak Ming-sze, who grossly overacts as Bo’s superstitious pal and would-be sister-in-law. But the soul of the film rests on its mature performers, with Jin, Nina Paw Hee-ching, Nora Miao Ho-sau and Michelle Lo Mik-Suet all evoking sympathy as women who happen to be single late in life.

L for Love, L for Lies Too opens on December 22
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