Directed by Ho-Cheung Pang
While it’s not a game-changer, writer-director Ho-Cheung Pang’s sharp rom-com, Love in the Buff, is a realistic portrayal of modern love in all its complexity and pain.
The film, a follow-up to Pang’s 2010 hit, Love in a Puff, reacquaints viewers with Cherie (a winning Miriam Yeung) and her younger boyfriend Jimmy (Shawn Yue), who originally bonded over alleyway cigarette breaks after Hong Kong health authorities banned indoor smoking.
Shifting from Hong Kong to Beijing, the now split-up pair go their separate ways, entering new jobs and new relationships on the mainland, only to reunite in a rollercoaster affair.
Yeung and Yue’s on-screen chemistry carries the film, engaging audiences with their witty and believable verbal sparring, so familiar in real-life relationships. A strong supporting cast, including June Lam as Cherie’s quirky girlfriend Brenda, ramp up the funny quotient.
Yeung and Yue’s on-screen chemistry carries the film, engaging audiences with their witty and believable verbal sparring
The bulk of the quick, cutting dialogue, spoken in Cantonese and Mandarin and subtitled in English, is packed with local cultural references and wordplay that may be lost on non-speakers. The best jokes, alas, are untranslatable, even with the help of (the often lacking) captions.
Heightening the already fast pace of Love in the Buff are its short, almost vignette-like scenes. Pang doesn’t waste time, establishing a brash urban feel from the start.
He also showcases Hong Kong and particularly Beijing to great effect. Showing little sign of its ubiquitous Soviet-style architecture, the Chinese capital appears completely cutting-edge and sexy, much like the film’s protagonists.
Love in the Buff falters at the end, however, with a clichéd mad-rush-to-the-train-station scene, and too-tidy ending that isn’t as realistic as previous scenes.
Overall, though, the film is a humorous romp through relationships that indulges audiences but remains relatable.
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