China’s Remake of the Romance ‘Only You’ Could Use More Magic


At long last, the wait is over: 1994’s Only You, the mystical rom-com starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr., has finally been remade.

Zhang Hao’s loose reimagining begins with a forlorn Fang Yuan telling the audience that, in her youth, two different fortune-tellers revealed the name of her future husband: Soon Kunming. She’s now engaged to a fellow named Xie Wei, who’s disappointing for the simple reason that he isn’t the spouse of prophecy. This fate weighs heavily on her mind, so of course she doesn’t question it when Kunming appears to come into her life.

Tang Wei (last seen in the woefully underrated Blackhat) and Liao Fan (whose next appearance is in the remarkable Black Coal, Thin Ice) are the foretold lovers in question. The two performers have the unenviable task of bringing a star-crossed premise down to earth and imbuing it with genuine emotion; both rise to the occasion admirably, but the material they’re working with presents a glass ceiling that a pair of solid performances can only put so many cracks into.

Only You
is mostly engaging for the ways in which it shows that prophecies reveal more about the receiver’s interpretive biases than they do about the secrets of the universe. In the case of an earthbound romantic drama, this isn’t such a bad thing. Strange though it may sound, however, Only You‘s biggest problem is that its reality isn’t heightened enough — lacking the weight of any actual supernatural force, the whole affair feels more reckless than romantic.

Only You
Directed by Zhang Hao
China Lion
Opens July 24, AMC Empire 25