Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

C'est la Vie, Mon Cheri

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Though macho actioners and goofy comedies have dominated the Hong Kong cinema for more than a decade, the women's picture--a favorite genre in the 50s and 60s--is waging a strong comeback. C'est la Vie, Mon Cheri updates a 1960 weepie classic. It's trendy among Asian producers these days to put French titles on the versions of their films distributed outside Chinese-speaking areas; unfortunately this film's rather pretentious French title misses the blunt romanticism of the Chinese original, which translates as "Eternal Love." Much of its action takes place in the tenement district of Temple Street, where a family of happy-go-lucky Cantonese opera musicians live. The simple plot, which begins like A Star Is Born and ends closer to Love Story, follows the unlikely yet budding romance between wide-eyed tomboy Min and Kit, a down-and-out jazz saxophonist and the ex-boyfriend of a pop diva. Director Derek Yee is skillful in understanding the bathos and coaxing honest performances from the lead actors, and newcomer Anita Yuen is incandescent as Min, portraying her as a headstrong yet frail naif; this role won her Hong Kong's version of the Oscar, and another went to the film itself. Also outstanding is legendary actress Fon Bao-bao as Min's stoic mother, who sings Cantonese arias in the streets to raise money for her daughter's hospital stay. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, October 14, 8:00, and Saturday, October 15, 2:00, 443-3737.

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