Monday, January 26, 2009

Teresa Mak "45 Days Lover"

“45 Day Lover” is a much better film than one would expect based on the amount of money spent on it—or at least the amount of money that winds up on the screen, which isn’t much. The story is hackneyed and full of rom/com devices that have been used forever: the poor little rich girl, the amnesia victim, the sudden redemption of a horribly spoiled child, but it works very well. The director, also one of the scriptwriters, stuck to the script and kept things hurtling along making it easy to overlook the lapses in logic necessary for a movie like this to work. With a cast well suited to their characters, simple (and probably very cheap) sets and straightforward cinematography “45 Day Lover” is a 90 minute success.

The delightful Teresa Mak plays Rose as if she was Paris Hilton’s more attractive and more obnoxious Asian cousin. We first encounter her in the the swimming pool. A servant holds an umbrella to shield her from the sun while others stand by to hand her towels and her robe. Rose mocks the accent of her father's mistress, makes scenes in restaurants and enjoys humiliating servants. Her father is a neglectful parent who thinks that giving his daughter everything she could want—a huge house, a big car with a driver, designer clothing and a very luxurious lifestyle—will make up for his inability to show her any love or even much affection.

The route Rose takes to redemption leads through Mainland China to a fisherman's shack. Along the way she suffers a carjacking, a knock on the head, near drowning and amnesia. Rose is convinced by the village psychic that she was a prostitute in a past life and that the person who rescued her this time was a penniless academic who committed suicide over her in a past life--clearly there is nothing for her to do but fall in love with the reincarnated scholar, now a humble fisherman. It is no more or less credible than the plot of any romantic comedy but is presented so simply and earnestly by the cast that we are happy to suspend disbelief.

Mak is terrific in this role. Rose begins as an insufferable bitch whose main interests are shopping and complaining. By the end of the movie she has become a delightful individual, reconciled with her father and is very happy with her new life whose pace is set by the seasons, good neighbors and the simple but profound pleasures of companionship turning to love. This is change we can believe in, due almost entirely to Teresa Mak who has never looked more ravishing and who clearly enjoys her starring role.