Love in the Buff (春娇与志明) (2012)

This was the one that made me fall in love with the odd couple and they have become one of my favourite onscreen couples. I even saw this twice at the cinema; something I don’t do very often.

The following are my musings on the movie, written at different times in chronological order.


 

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Just watched the best HK movie I have seen in a while. No gangsters, no car chases, no extreme melodrama, no silly slapstick comedy but yet so clever to e nth degree. I already gave The Avengers 10 / 5 so this will have to 11 / 5. Yes, it’s better IMHO. When it ended, I felt like buying 2 tickets to see it again!  I didn’t even feel that way with The Avengers.

Love in the Buff (春娇与志明) is the sequel to Love in a Puff (志明与春娇). Even the Chinese title is so witty… notice the interchanging names?  Puff is about 2 unlikely souls coming together over 6 days. Buff takes the story a year after when the honeymoon period is over. Their relationship has gone dry and they broke off. In a twist of fate they meet in Beijing and rediscover themselves and each other.

The performance by the couple is fantastic and so authentic. I swear Shawn Yue is never a good actor in anything I have seen him in, except for Puff and Buff. Miriam Yeung wears her heart on her sleeve and has so much spunk. She didn’t have much to do in Puff but in Buff her role is fantastic.

I love the director’s strong sense of place. In Puff the scenes are all in interesting places in HK while in Buff, he transports us to Beijing. The locations used somehow makes the movie feel very real and authentic.

Above all, what my wife and I love the most is the writing. So nuanced at times and so sharp at others. Every line the actors sprout is carefully written and so within their characters to utter. To me there are no cringe-worthy lines and every line is PERFECTO!  It is also not just about well-written lines but perfect delivery. The writers seem to have also looked within themselves to distill the essense of love and I find everything so right. For instance, do you sometimes see the odd couple on the street? One fat and one thin. One quiet and one loud. One is a gangster and one is demure. One beautiful and the other errr not so worthy. Buff explains it so well here in that love is love. Shawn postulates that he loves eating the noodles from HK’s 7-11.  He says it’s salty and has not much meat but he just loves it. There’s no need to explain why you love something right? It’s quite right if you think about it, isn’t it?  It was when the movie ended that my wife told me there’s another level to that line that Shawn said… He is referring to Miriam who can make a sweet moment become ‘salty’ and she is quite flat-chested (hence not much meat). She told me a few other lines too which have so much loaded double meaning. There are so many lines I want to share but I will do you a favour and shut up. Sigh… I should have paid more attention during Chinese lessons but I did the next best thing – I married a girl who is ‘powerful’ in Mandarin.

Watch out for cameos by Huang Xiao Ming, Ekin Cheng and Linda Chung. The lines they deliver are pure gold – the fricking literature of LOVE. Ponder over the lines Ekin and Shawn share about a strand of vegetable too. I didn’t know at first but laugh so hard. When my wife explained it to me in the car, I think I fell in love with her all over again.

I think this is the poorest review I have penned because I just couldn’t find the words to say how good this is for me and every word I am typing out on my iphone at 12+am can’t depict the feelings the movie have conjured up in me. Buff is a superb rom-com… there are moments that are so sad and tears are like welling (iamapussy, I know) in my eyes and the director in a clever sleight of hand twist it into comedy-land. The tone is just amazing. I seldom ever see this in HK movies which tend to stay in melodrama mode. Buff reminds me of how/why I fell in love, how I have broken up a few times and why I can love again… Go watch this with your wife, girlfriend or someone you want to know.

PS – if u don’t already know, don’t leave when the movie ends. After the credit roll, get ready to roll in the aisle with laughter.

PSS – you don’t really need to watch Puff to appreciate this but it sure would help a lot.


 

There is a scene that simply don’t work in Mandarin. The chaps were in a Beijing disco hooking up with girls. Then a chap suggests supper at another place. The purpose of the calculated move is to really scrutinize the girls under fluorescent lights. In Mandarin, the “ants on a tree” joke didn’t work. To me that’s one of the many reasons why the movie works so well… it could distill stuff that we all know in the courting game so well and put it up on screen so succinctly. The same thing happened to me many years ago. I got a rude shock when under fluorescent lights she turned out to be a little unexpected (not that I am any good-looking dude anyway). Since that night I came to the conclusion that under disco lights or warm lounge lights, anybody can look the most beautiful or handsome. Never form opinions under these circumstances.

Last night, I saw Buff again with a bunch of pals. Still so good and everybody loved it. One of my pals happened to be working in Beijing for the past few years so he could explain stuff like what is a Beijing 户口 and other cultural stuff depicted in Buff. It was a great night… hanging out at a 茶餐厅 till the staff were mopping the floor talking about love. Hope I can stay awake at the meeting happening NOW!


 

All the great rom-coms have the best meet-cutes between the guy and the girl. For example, a long drive coupled with the wittiest dialogue in When Harry Met Sally, a simple connection over a Smiths’ song in 500 Days of Summer and of course, the ‘meet’ in Sleepless in Seattle came at the end of the movie on top of the Empire State Building. There are also other awesome rom-coms where the couple had sex first before they actually ‘meet’ like About Last Night and Pretty Woman.

I feel there are great ‘meets’ in Buff but to me, that’s not why the film shines – it also has 3 of the best break-ups put on screen.

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