Review: C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI 新不了情 (1993) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Review: C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI 新不了情 (1993)

Review: C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI 新不了情 (1993)

C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI begins with a depressed jazz saxophonist Kit (Lau Ching-Wan) who is recently breaking up with his longtime singer girlfriend, Tracy (Carina Lau) and moves out to a quieter residential area of Hong Kong where he rents a flat. Among the residents, is a family of music performers including a perky girl named Min (Anita Yuen) who is particularly so interested with Kit's composed music every night that she begins to hum as well. She later meets Kit and unexpectedly become friends, though Kit at first finds her rather annoying. Every night Kit will be accompanied Min to a night market where her family is performing requested songs for mostly older audiences. Min's childhood dream is always wanted to become a singer and sell records but her strict mum (Petrina Fung Bo-Bo), who is a former singer herself, refuses her to do so since Min needs to be helping for her family at all time. As Min and Kit gradually grow closer to each other, Kit's once depressing life is finally brimming with a positive outlook. Thanks to Min's help, he is able to pull his life together and manages to let go of his sour relationship with Tracy and starts fresh. But as their love grows stronger, tragedy strikes when Min suffers from her leukaemia again and everything seems to be falling apart. 

REVIEW: Hong Kong's answer to the evergreen Ali MacGraw-Ryan O'Neal's LOVE STORY (1970), C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI (which means "That's life, my love") is one of the most popular tearjerkers ever made that also boosts the careers of Anita Yuen and Lau Ching-Wan as well as marked the highest reputation for director Derek Yee thus far. In fact, this movie famously won 6 Hong Kong Film Awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress for Anita Yuen.

C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI is actually a remake of an older Hong Kong movie, LOVE WITHOUT END (1961) which starred Lin Dai and writer-director Derek Yee takes on the oft-familiar story into something uniquely heartfelt. 

It's a solid movie nonetheless, especially Yee brings strong respect to the source material and crafts out plenty of meaningful themes that tugged deep into your heart. The movie also perfectly juggled between its first half's celebration of life and its second half's grim subject matter, while Yee takes great care to ensure his character feels real and involving enough for us to identify with their situation. Nevertheless, the cast is great, with Anita Yuen being the main attraction in a surprisingly compelling performance that deservedly won her the Best Actress award. 

The movie's second half is especially heartbreaking, once Min struck with her illness. You feel her pain and anxiety she has to suffer all over again after years of battling leukaemia successfully. Her doctor (Sylvia Chang) is regret to tell her that there's no hope because her cancer has grown too much and cure is highly unlikely. But Kit tries his best to make sure that Min stays strong no matter what and they will cherish each moment together. The meaning of the title truly captured in a perfectly executed closing shot depicting Kit is coming back from a long journey just to buy Min's favourite dessert and arrives at the hospital ward to find Min has already passed away. The particular non-payoff in the very finale that might turn off most mainstream viewers requested for an otherwise happy ending, but Yee makes it works out very well. 

Despite its familiar route, C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI is truly a Hong Kong cinematic masterpiece not to be missed.

Thanks to Derek Yee's solid direction as well as Lau Ching-Wan and Anita Yuen's remarkable performances, C'EST LA VIE MON CHERI is a great tearjerker not to be missed.

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