Don’t Go Breaking My Heart is a 2011 Hong Kong romantic comedy film directed by three-time collaboraters Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai. The film stars Louis Koo, Daniel Wu and Gao Yuanyuan. A friend of mine pointed out that this film is indeed shot in the Mandarin language of China rather than the provincial Cantonese of prior HK films, meaning that Hong Kong is trickling into Chinese culture in a more profound way. When the movie opens, we find Zixin getting dumped by her boyfriend who is married. We can understand her caution with men, especially when she tries to recover from this heartbreak that makes getting rid of her past rather difficult. The film delivers empathy towards the characters without ever veering into sappy territory. This is important for me, because after all, I am a male, reviewing a romantic comedy.
With this stage set, the movie progresses to develop the relation between the characters. The actors’ chemistry works, and situation, while corny, do seem to work. The plot develops significance when Gao learns that Mr. Handsome, though professing to love her and even proposing marriage, cannot commit to monogamy. The ending of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart was unknown to the actors until the final week of shooting, which is always fun to create shock value as real as possible. This movie creates a world full of attractive people and money. The men in the movie act like men in the real world (lust, love, etc.) but the young females in the movie except Zixin seem to be easily seduced. Solid performances and ingenuity make it an entertaining romantic comedy.
Johnny To doesn’t direct many rom-coms with his last in 2004, but after all the high octane films he has given me over the years I thought I would give this a try. As you can tell from the above paragraphs I enjoyed it quite a bit. Women will most certainly eat this film up as when the credits finish rolling it will be hard for them to not experience an emotional overhaul and become inspired to seek romance. Don’t be mistaken though, this is by no means a film to be introduced to Johnny To’s filmography. We are led to believe that love is often precariously sweet, and as I’m sure we all know by now, it isn’t. Without the much desired tear-jerking element, the film now relies upon dillusion. Surely, it is the films biggest weak spot.
Earlier this year, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart was the opening film at the 35th Hong Kong International Film Festival. The film was also screened at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Finally getting around to seeing it myself, the biggest thing I can take away from the film, romance aside, is that the production values are quite amazing and the images are fluid and vibrant. Using everything that the directors know about the game, the two filmmakers take alternative service games vying for the ultimate prize, the woman of their heart’s desire. With delightful twists and turns, the match culminates in a cliff-hanger and begs you to ask the question if you should be having the same kind of romance in your own life. In other words, it is a great film to see on a date, but not so great to see alone. Sadly, I was alone but I won’t let that affect my overall score. Maybe.