Elixir of Love

The premise of this lightweight 2004 comedy, set in 11th-century China, is silly to the point of preposterousness. But once the romance between the two leads begins to jell, it transforms into a surprisingly touching love story. An emperor's wife gives birth to a girl after a succession of male offspring, but the celebration is short-lived when it becomes wincingly apparent that the tot suffers from a malodorous affliction, “serious atypical reeking syndrome.” Years later the desperate emperor holds a competition to try to cure his daughter, with the victor promised her hand in marriage. The contest pits an arrogant associate of the royal physician against a poor gardener searching for the blend of fragrances that will rescue the princess from her plight. Riley Yip directed his own script; with Richie Ren and Miriam Yeung. In Cantonese with subtitles. 105 min.

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