ROMANCING IN THIN AIR
Directed by Johnnie To
Johnnie To is hands down one of the most interesting filmmakers in the world. A darling of both critics and audiences, only To can show you the same scene four times and make you cry while your brain synapses explode. Funny, poignant, and almost macabre, ROMANCING IN THIN AIR, is also one of his most thematically ambitious and cinematically elegant, and easily belongs with his best.
The opening credits vault us into the middle of a Hong Kong awards show and appropriately set the tone, as ceremony, acting, storyline, text, credits, beginning, and ending all mix to strange effect. The film then cuts to something simpler: Sue (Sammi Cheng), an innkeeper in a remote mountain retreat, waits for a husband lost in the woods for seven years. Unbeknownst to her, she accidentally brings home Michael, a Hong Kong superstar (Louis Koo) in a drunken downward spiral after being left at the altar on national television. While the rest of Hong Kong searches for Michael, romance buds between him and Sue. But a series of twists reveal uncanny connections between them and the ways movies and human stories can mess and unsettle each other.
Johnnie To (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, SDAFF ’11; Life Without Principle, Spring Showcase ’12) weaves pop fandom, Buddhist destiny, cinema, and breathtaking shots so seamlessly we barely notice how the film is also deconstructing what is happening before our very eyes, an incredible feat achieved without a trace of irony or self-celebration. –Christina Ree
Cast: Sammi Cheng, Louis Koo, Li Guangjie, Gao Yuanyuan