The Office | Chicago Reader

The Office

119 minutes 2015

The U.S. distributor is billing this as Johnnie To's Office, but an equal or surpassing share of the credit should go to veteran Taiwanese actress Sylvia Chang, whose stage musical Design for Living served as the source material. Sort of a Chinese How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, this centers on a cosmetics company preparing to go public (a situation roiled by the 2008 financial collapse) and follows various workplace and romantic intrigues, with Chang as CEO and Chow Yun-fat as chairman of the board (also her secret lover). To, director of such crime dramas as Election (2005) and Sparrow (2008), injects some muscular visuals, with percussive close-ups of characters addressing each other through the camera, and there's an expressionistic office set outlined with fluorescent tube lights against a black space. But after a while the overpacked plot begins to feel like an afternoon meeting that won't end. In English and subtitled Mandarin and Cantonese.

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