Film review: Love in Late Autumn – Irene Wan overly sentimental in road movie
Melancholy, indulgent, and implausible, this corny, slow-moving drama is at its most interesting when it focuses on the least heralded character - the taxi driver taking clothes horse Wan on an epic Chinese road trip from Shanghai to Guilin
A vanity project presumably made with an imaginary mature audience in mind, this plodding film co-produced by Irene Wan Pik-ha sees the actress play a bigger star than she currently is. Love in Late Autumn offers a mildly pensive experience during the road movie embedded in its middle section, though the exceedingly corny marriage drama bookending it will test the patience of most.
Wan plays Linda, a jaded Hong Kong film star married to art consultant Ka-fai (Patrick Tam Yiu-man). When she flies to Shanghai to surprise him on their 10th wedding anniversary, only to walk into what she believes to be an affair between her husband and his secretary, Cindy (Charmaine Fong Ho-man), Linda impulsively takes an epic taxi ride to Guilin, where the couple once had a blissful backpacking trip.
Directed by the Malaysian-born, Japan and China-based Lim Kah-wai, this melancholy romance seems far too willing to indulge Wan’s desire to stage her personal fashion spreads on the road: she’s sporting perfect hair and make-up even after a night’s sleep in the back seat. There is, however, a lack of sexual tension in the film, which is as notable for its scenic locales as it’s for Wan’s naked shoulders.
Slow-moving and borderline artsy, Love in Late Autumn is ironically at its most interesting when it focuses on its least heralded character, the young taxi driver Han Lei (Zhao Bingrui), who turns out to be an aspiring writer with a history in Guilin. By contrast, the romantic tussle among Linda, Ka-fai and Cindy merely results in cloying clichés: the selflessness of lovers and the convenience of incurable diseases.
Love in Late Autumn opens on January 21