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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.11%
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Pretty Bad: 11.11%
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1 review, 3 user ratings

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If You Are the One 2 (Fei Cheng Wu Rao 2)
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by Jay Seaver

"Attempts to invert the romantic comedy, with mixed results."
3 stars

Romantic comedies (and romances in general) probably shouldn't have sequels; after all, if you want to recapture what made the first work, you've got to either roll back the happy ending of the first or shift the focus to a new couple, and who knows if they have the same chemistry. This holds true even when the movie in question is the highest-grossing film ever in the most populous country in the world. Resist temptation, or you'll get something like "If You Are the One 2": Nice enough in spots, but fighting an uphill battle.

Two years ago, Qin Fen (Ge You) fell into a relationship with Liang Xiaoxiao (Shu Qi), despite the fact that she is some twenty years his junior and they had intended to just be friends. Two years later, he has proposed to her. However, things don't always run smooth - their best friends, Mango (Yao Chen) and Li Xingshan (Sun Honglei), are getting divorced after five years, and it leads Xiaoxiao to suggest a "test marriage" to see if their love will last once their initial ardor cools.

From what I gather, describing the original film (which I have not seen) as a romantic comedy may not be wholly accurate; if the sequel is similar in tone, it is a contemplative love story that is frequently funny because romance can be crazy at times. In that case, this movie's odd changes of tone is in perfect keeping with the series, although the extreme nature of its mood swings is rather unsettling. If You Are the One 2 starts out not just funny, but with an emotional complexity that romances seldom attempt, and the process of pulling Fen and Xiaoxiao apart and back together seldom approaches the same level of wit.

Indeed, the film's opening sequence, where director Feng Xiaogang and co-writer Wang Shou show us what initially looks like a wedding only to have it become a "divorce ceremony", is a sly delight. Longtime fans of Feng and star Ge will perhaps have happy flashbacks to Da Wan (variously called "Happy Funeral" and "Big Shot's Funeral" in the west) upon seeing the black comedy of this scene; it's brilliant in its absurd grandiosity and occasionally barbed moments amid the silliness. It is one of my favorite sequences in a movie this year, and its energy continues as the scene moves from Beijing to Shimei Bay. The "honeymoon" sequence, while not as playful as the divorce, is still funny and romantic, although with difficulties hidden under the surface. It's a nifty, complex balance, played out against a gloriously beautiful background (the mountaintop home Qin has purchased and the way it is shot are both eye-wateringly gorgeous).

And then things take a turn for the worse, both for Fen and Xiaoxiao, the other characters, and the audience. The darker undercurrents burst forward almost out of nowhere, and once things start on a downward path, there seems to be no stopping the film - it blows straight past melancholy and sad, and straight to morbid. The second half of the movie is a pit that Feng and Wang have a hard time navigating - the story lurches forward awkwardly, scenes tied together with mannered narration that confuses as much as it guides, and the balance between the characters is hopelessly thrown off. The finale is limp, penned on either side by a downbeat last act and the filmmakers being too aware of the potential for future sequels to give a definitive conclusion.

The cast does rather better than soldier through it, thankfully. Ge You, a fixture in Feng's movies, makes a leading man who is both lovestruck and curmudgeonly; he manages to simultaneously embody both hard-earned, pragmatic wisdom and a child-like innocence. Shu Qi, meanwhile, gives Xiaoxiao a mischievous streak while also making her unyielding and occasionally troubled; as abrupt as her actions midway through the movie may seem, the seeds for it were visible earlier. Together, they make a fine couple, with an easy, charming chemistry together and both delivering fine hurt when things hit the skids. Yao and Sun make good sounding boards, too; they manage to act as reflections of the other couple while bringing a mix of hope and pessimism to their reactions.

As much as the second half of the movie becomes a bit of a mire, there's still a fair amount to like about "If You Are the One 2" - the cast is charming and the opening is one of the funnier sequences of the year. That great opening is evidence that the ambitious thing the movie is trying to do, turning the romantic comedy inside out, is worth a shot. I don't know how effective it is as a sequel, though - although it's easy enough to jump into without having seen the first, maybe having more history makes things work a little better.

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originally posted: 12/27/10 17:13:34
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User Comments

1/21/11 mariah lol , this movie was hilarious , loved it , funny while sad 5 stars
1/16/11 Ming Nice romantic comedy and romance can be painful and crazy at times 3 stars
12/31/10 Fezza Sometimes funny, lacking focus 2 stars
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Directed by
  Xiaogang Feng

Written by
  Xiaogang Feng
  Wang Shuo

  You Ge
  Qi Shu
  Chen Yao
  Honglei Sun

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