Pang Ho-cheung captures the feel of contemporary Hong Kong life with a masterful touch.
Love in a Puff is to Hong Kong what an Eric Rohmer film is to France, or John Cassavetes to the US. Directed by Pang Ho-cheung (Exodus, Isabella) from a script co-written with Heiward Mak (High Noon), this truly brilliant, dialogue-driven romantic comedy is so adept in capturing the feel of contemporary Hong Kong life – from the hazy ambiance of its booze-filled, late-night karaoke lounge parties, to its uncannily realistic portrayal of the sometimes aimless, often profanity-filled, and always amusing ways of Cantonese banter – that it makes every other movie feel like what they are: censored, dramatised, scripted fictions.
Hovering amid all the smoke and jokes is a seven-day affair between avid smokers Cherie (Miriam Yeung), a cosmetic salesgirl in a relationship, and Jimmy (Shawn Yue), a newly available advertising executive four years her junior. The two first meet at a popular gathering spot for office smokers after Hong Kong’s indoor smoking ban; and the film’s initial playfulness gradually gives way to a sombre portrait of quick-fire urban romances, complete with its joy, its gamesmanship, and its capriciousness. In his kinetic, improvisatory way, Pang has delivered a minor masterpiece that is as carefree as they come.
Dir Pang Ho-cheung, Category III, 95 mins, opens March 25