Beijing Love Story believes in love at first sight. It also believes in grand declarations of that love and the idea that there’s no scene that wouldn’t be improved by blurry slow-motion and winsome music, which is another way of saying it’s yet another romantic dramedy whose worldview is wholly informed by other movies rather than by anything resembling real life (or, perish the thought, a unique conception of what it means to be in love).
So far removed from any original signal — there are several direct references to Titanic, so it’s timely, too — this nuance-free affair registers as little more than noise.
Our ostensible hero meets, impregnates, and proposes marriage to a woman within the first 10 minutes of the film; one of his friends angrily refers to his unfaithful wife a “slutty ho bag”; and the third member of the gang’s wife returns to him even after receiving definitive proof of his serial philandering.
That these three prove so unlikable is ultimately less of a problem (on a storytelling level, at least) than how impossible it is to credit them or the rest of the characters as real people.
Writer-director Chen Sicheng pays lip service to the idea of the marital bond trumping all difficulties, but more often than not it’s the woman who ends up sacrificing and settling. In each instance, the implications are as clear as they are retrograde.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 12, 2014