For the past couple of years, the world of film has been bombarded with multiple story romantic comedies that have more vapid star names on their posters than holes on a slice of cheese. Last year’s Hollywood’s New Year’s Eve is a recent offender, and Hong Kong’s 2010 Hot Summer Days is a somewhat not completely dull offender. However, with a cast that includes Taiwan and China’s sexy super stars Shu Qi and Zhao Wei, Ai Love (to avoid confusions) is hard to skip… specially at the hands of Doze Niu, following up his successful gangster youth drama, Monga. It’s an interesting follow-up, indeed.
Ai Love follows a messed up group of people- first, Li Yijia (Yi-han Chen), who has just realized she’s pregnant with her best friend’s boyfriend, Kai (Eddie Peng), who instead of tackling the problem head on, decides to avoid his girlfriend NiNi (Amber Kuo, whom we saw in Au Revoir Taipei). NiNi’s father, Mr. Lu (Doze Niu, going through his Woody Allen phase), is going through a crisis with the deteriorating relationship with his daughter and his relationship with fortune-hunter Zoe (Shu Qi), who meets stuttering Kuan (Ethan Ruan) at a hotel where she’s having a secret rendezvous with Mr. Lu’s business partner, Mark (Mark Chao), who’s on his way to Beijing to meet up with klutzy real estate agent Xiao Ye-jin (Zhao Wei).
Though, the storyline in Ai Love may be predictable… and rather unromantic for a glossy “romantic comedy” — and believe me, it’s clear and beautiful to look at in high definition — the movie might have a surprising take on what “love” really is by tying our storylines through a very predominant theme of “parental love” and family. It’s obviously there in Li Yijia’s unborn baby story, it’s there with NiNi’s relationship with her dad, and it’s there in everyone else’s.
While the movie is supposed to be a romance, there isn’t much lovey-dovey stuff — though there’s the scene when Zoe greets Mark for the first time with a glowing Shu Qi opening the door, and an unrequited kiss between him and Xiao Ye-jin… with a bonus hilarious sexy dance by Zhao Wei — no conflicts really arise from the actual getting together of people, and all the character development seems to involve self-growing instead of growing together. Despite its fundamental lackings, Ai Love proves to be a decent addition into the multi-story rom-com genre, infusing some freshness into the archetype of the hysteric lovelorn women we’ve gotten accustomed from their Hollywood counterparts.