Lavender ***1/2 (out of 5) (2000)
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Kelly Chen, Eason Chan, Pei-pei Cheng
Directed By Ip Kam Hung
About halfway through LAVENDER the wheels in my mind were already beginning to turn on how I would review it. It seemed to me that it was turning out to be yet another Hong Kong comedy/romance that would go through it's predictable path of injecting coy cuteness and goofy characters in contrived situations and in the end, the two people who had avoided acknowledging their love for each other for the last 90 minutes would end up together and all is well.
Yep, I was stuck on this plane of predictability. I could see the runway lights. Landing gear was down. OK, flagman, bring us in. Say, this doesn't look like the right airport...um, are we being hijacked?!?
I don't know what the names are of the little elves who came out after the first hour and fixed this script, but I just want to say thanks. Ya done this movie a whole lotta good.
I suppose credit should more aptly be given to writer/director Ip Kam Hung, who could have made a real work of art if it weren't for the pedestrian setup. Some savvy people who have seen the American film starring John Travolta, MICHAEL, may find some similarites, but I think it's probably coincidental. LAVENDER casts Kelly Chen as Athena, a brokenhearted aromatherapy instructor who cries softly to herself every night despairing over the loss of her lover long ago. She is startled awake one evening to find an angel (Takeshi Kaneshiro) has crashed into her balcony, and she takes him in until his wings are healed enough to fly back to heaven. This angel feeds off of love, love which Athena finds impossible to give anymore, and Angel learns it is Athena's heart that also needs healing and not just his wings.
Perhaps LAVENDER may be seen as a bit corny or sickeningly sweet for some tastes, but it's definitely a worthwhile watch for those who like a good dose of sentimentality in their romantic comedies. I will also concede that there is a superficiality in the characters and contrivance in the situations. However, even if it were to have been just another predictable romantic fantasy, the sumptuous visuals by cinematographer Pung-Leung Kwan, designs by Pun Chi-Wai and Bing Yiu Wong, and costumes by Lei Lo Ng are almost enough to sit through on their own. LAVENDER is a feast for the eyes and refreshing for the soul. A definite recommendation.
This DVD is available for purchase at www.hkflix.com
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