Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sophie's Revenge

I was able to watch the English subtitled version of Sophie's Revenge (2009) at the 4 Star. Advertised as a romantic comedy, the film featured a barely recognizable Ziyi Zhang. I can't put my finger on it but her face looked different than she did in Memoirs of a Geisha, Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Maybe it was the hair bangs.

Ziyi Zhang in Sophie's Revenge

The lack of recognition may be due to seeing her in slaptstick role. The film is obviously a showcase for Zhang's comedic talents. She shows a flair for physical comedy in the film that I had not seen before. The film itself was lacking the plot to showcase her skills.

The story involves comic book artist Sophie (Zhang) and her carefully planned/horribly executed plans to take revenge on her ex-boyfriend Jeff. Jeff dumped Sophie to date movie star Joanna (nice performance by Bingbing Fan). Putting aside the farcical elements of the film, Sophie seems like she is in need of serious psychiatric treatment. She exhibits severe manic-depressive symptoms and frequently hallucinates. She is fixated on winning Jeff back only to break up with him on their wedding day. Sophie and Jeff were engaged before the breakup but Sophie hasn't worked up the courage to tell her mother that they're no longer a couple so the wedding plans continue unabated.

Sophie begins her plan of revenge with the half-hearted help of Joanna's ex-boyfriend Gordon. From an objective viewpoint, Sophie stalks her ex at the hospital he works at, illegally enters his home to plant love notes and her brassiere and finally attempts to become Joanna's friend under a false identity. Gordon, for some reason is attracted to Sophie, but looks on in bewilderment and disgust as Sophie plans and executes her machinations.

The sum total of the movie is a series of slapstick scenes - Sophie wreaking unintentional havoc at the hospital, Sophie scrambling to avoid Jeff & Joanna when they arrive home while she is planting the love notes, Sophie out of her element at the gym where Joanna works out, Sophie drunk at a costume party, etc. I'm not even sure what Jeff's appeal is - he seems kind of buttoned down and boring. Gordon on the hand is a perfect match for Sophie but she can't see it because she is fixated on her revenge plans...and it turns out that Gordon is really Joanna's brother and spying on her at Joanna's behest.

Sophie has two best friends, Lucy (Ruby Lin) and Lily (Chen Yao), that serve as her sounding boards and cohorts. Both of them (particularly Lin) make the most of their limited roles although I couldn't get over how sophisticated and beautiful they looked compared to Sophie.

Did I like the film? I laughed a fair amount. The film was interesting for the upscale world that Sophie, et al. inhabit - bright & airy lofts with hardwood floors, stylish clothes, luxury cars, etc. So much for the cold, grey Chinese urban landscapes that you typically see. Who could have imagined that a comic book writer could afford all that? The film reminded me a little of My Best Friend's Wedding with Julia Roberts. The main character in both films were attractive & successful women who behaved deplorably by real-world standards but yet I was able to laugh at their antics and even feel slight bit of empathy.

Ziyi Zhang in Sophie's Revenge

No comments: