8 March 2000 | cbarr-3
Michelle Yeoh plays Thomas Crown with interesting results
This is not a typical Michelle Yeoh vehicle: no martial arts!
It is, in fact, a low budget remake of the original "Thomas Crown Affair" with a Michelle Yeoh playing that role. It is also an excellent film. The chemistry between the insurance investigator (extremely well played by George Lam) and the thrill seeking millionairess (played with quiet nuance by Michelle Yeoh) is as fine as anything I've seen on film.
Yeoh starred in four films before she married Poon, an owner of the studio. Three of them were actions films in which she played a short-haired, sweet tomboy -- generally wearing print shirts and jeans. This film was a distinct departure. She plays a long-haired, sophisticated beauty -- who knows exactly how many bottles of 1960 Petrus there are in Paris. My hunch is that Poon had his eyes on her and wanted to "upgrade" her image in preparation for marriage. I may be wrong. The result is certainly unique.
Yeoh's is an interesting performance. We never really know her character. She is always something of an enigma -- but this is the idea, I think. One senses the tomboy lurking beneath the svelte sophistication. And the trade mark little girl giggle (hand over mouth, head bowed) is always ready to burst out. And that sweet, taunting smile is there too, just before she totally humiliates the adversary male. And that self-contained strength she brings to all her performances underlies it all. It is a convincing portrait of a disturbed young woman looking for something she does not know how to enjoy.
For an example of the range in the role, watch the chase scene through Paris. She is the excited little girl stealing a police car. A daredevilish stunt woman leading the police on a mad chase through the streets. But then, as she hears the police beating the poor insurance investigator (whom she has left stuck in the stolen car), a profound melancholy wells up on her face. It is not fun anymore. The real world has intruded on her fantasy.
In all her post-retirement films I have sensed an underlying sadness in Yeoh. A kind of isolation -- sometimes verging on desolation. It is even used as a subplot in several of those films: Wing Chun, Butterfly and Sword, Supercop 2, Tai Chi Master. Something of this mood also emerges for the first time in Easy Money.
A very well done film. And Yeoh is a much more interesting Thomas Crown than was Brosnan in his remake.