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  • Warning: Spoilers
    "A West Lake Moment" is the English title used in the Hong Kong International Film Festival screening of director Yim Ho's most recent work. There are 36 lakes with the name of "West Lake", according to a tourist guide who was showing us one of these lakes in the vicinity of Leizhou, Guangdong a few years ago. Everybody knew though that there is only one West Lake that carries a couple of thousand years of history and romance – THE West Lake in Hangzhou. To a large extent, director Yim's latest movie is a tribute to this legendary place, as the title suggests.

    Taking a 180 degree about turn from his earlier languid and sometimes somber work such as Sishui liunian and Tianguo niezi, director Yim shot a marshmallow of a movie, sweet, soft, fluffy and ultimately forgettable.

    In a post-screening Q&A session, director Yim acknowledged the observation made by an audience, that the movie reflects quite well the young "petit bourgeois" in China today, how they dress, how they talk, how they live. The story surrounds the character played by Zhou Xun, a young women running a teahouse (the "Yuan Yang Hu Die") left by her parents and her relationship with two young men. Despite the lively and pleasing style of story telling, the romance doesn't exactly leave you pining, mainly because of the guy's inadequacy (in a general sense). The other relationship oozes political correctness with its generous dose of environmental awareness and here, the guy is played by director Yim's son, a talented young man responsible for all the original score in the movie.

    For Zhou Xun fans, this movie is a must-see.
  • A West Lake Moment is a romantic drama featuring Xiao Yu (Zhou Xun) as the owner of a café in Hangzhou. She meets a man, Qin (Chen Kun) from Beijing, a playboy who shares the same idiosyncrasies as she does (from an occasional stammer to mild schizophrenia) and as a result, she promptly falls for him. But his playboy days become too much for her, testing her patience and ultimately forcing her back to Hangzhou. Soon he realises he may have lost the one relationship he really wanted, just as Xiao Yu finds out that she may have just lost her best friend, Tong (Yim Ling).

    The setting for the film is West Lake, a large lake that is situated in the city of Hangzhou in southern China. Its history is that it is one of the most beautiful places in China, having inspired writers and artists for many centuries. A very beautiful place, the film uses that to good effect with beautiful shots of the location that do the place full justice. However, my only complaint is the lack of the use of the weather. Most shots are taken on a grey wintry day (probably the only time that the lake is quiet in this tourist city), and thus, I thought it could have been done better.

    The film is very much a portrait of life in modern China for the youth of today. The cast are the up and coming young wannabes, who dress well and want to be successful in careers outside of the traditional ones their parents probably wanted. And with all of that is the different opinions of love and how it comes about. The playboy and the girl with a Caucasian boyfriend exemplifies this. The setting is truthful and honest, and does say a lot about how China has changed.

    As for the stars, Zhou Xun is one of the biggest talents in Chinese cinema today. Her appearances in Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress, Hollywood Hong Kong and most recently Perhaps Love have displayed a versatility that could see her as one of the biggest actresses to have come from China. Her performance in this film makes her completely lovable, particularly as the idiosyncrasies that she possesses are completely believable, and I have no doubt that there will be more big successes for her in the future.

    Chen Kun is also a rising talent in China, and his performance in this film was also strong. I suspect the chemistry that he and Zhou Xun has been consolidated over time as this is their third outing together on the big screen.

    Meanwhile the partnership between director Yim Ho and his son Yim Ling, who plays Tong in this movie, appears to work well. As I understand it from other reviews on IMDb, Yim Ling also writes the score and soundtrack for the film, which I have to say is excellent.

    All in all, this is a good movie, with plenty to keep you interested. One for a dreamy afternoon.
  • Review In One Breath: Zhou Xun works at a coffee shop and chooses between three possible suitors. There's a lot to like here. First and foremost, it's extremely pleasant to watch, with much in the way of effective humor via interesting, quirky events. There is a notable absence of slapstick and almost all of the laughs are earned through witty dialogue. Zhou's subconscious is represented by an imaginary little girl named Zazabo who steals the show every time she appears. Sure, this movie tosses in some genre clichés, but even those are enjoyable. A very satisfying romantic comedy.

    I'm surprised at some of the extremely negative comments on IMDb (as well as other websites). Some people are claiming that "West Lake Moment" is a pretentious film. How on earth someone gathered this impression is beyond me. First and foremost, this movie is a romantic comedy that carries out most of its events in a humorous light, and only takes itself seriously in little segments. It never attempts to portray itself as a deep philosophical exhibition – like the (very good) Danish romance "Reconstruction" (2003). On the contrary, it uses its concepts (like destiny and coincidence) in an extremely light-hearted manner. If you really want pretentious trash go watch "Titanic" (1997). "West Lake Moment" is nowhere near pretentious.

    Some other criticisms say that the screenplay was poor (without citing any specific reasons). I must have missed something, because the script seemed very tight and intelligent even though it was comedic for most of the time. The thermometer scene, the stuttering scene, the communication failure scene, the online chat scene, and virtually every scene with Zazabo are hilarious due to the witty banter that's exchanged between characters. Sure, it's not psychologically or philosophically dense, but it's not supposed to be – it's a *romantic comedy*.

    One thing that "West Lake Moment" is not is forgettable – at least for me. I've always liked Zhou Xun, but even after watching half a dozen of her films I was never really entertained to a superlative degree, even though I have enjoyed most of her projects. This was the first movie that gave me that "wow" sensation after it finished – where you say to yourself, "That was really good!"

    "West Lake Moment" might be one of Zhou Xun's most trashed films, but I've always thought that critics and the general public have no taste in film, nor have any idea what the hell they're talking about (a 5.6 IMDb rating is ridiculous). These same dunces gloat about self-masturbatory crap like "The English Patient" (1996), so I feel no guilt in placing this film on a pedestal as the 4th best romantic comedy in existence – behind "My Sassy Girl" (2001), "All About Women" (2008), and "I'm A Cyborg But That's Okay" (2006).
  • I am deeply touched by this movie, the last time i had similar feeling was after watching Maggie Cheung and Leon Lai, Comrades Almost a Love Story.

    A West Lake Moment has a remarkable lingering effect, i keep on watching until i lost count. Sometimes the whole movie and other time just to remember. It reminds of youth, u-turns, nice surprises, improbable events that you dare not even to dream but really happened and the addictive feeling of adrenaline rush to have butterflies in your belly.

    All in all, as close as to be dreaming. I envy for people who are lucky to have had similar experiences even for Zhou Xun and Chen Kun despite they were merely playing/acting the roles of these lucky people.

    Really appreciate the production/casting people for making the effort to recruit chen kun and zhou xun to be part of this movie. They really share a genuinely precious chemistry together that will set the bar really high for others.

    A truly must see. I can only regret watching it too late but beware as you will be longing for more...butterflies.