By Gina Scialabba:
I’ve always loved foreign films. There’s rarely a movie with subtitles I don’t enjoy.
Hong Kong cinema is no exception. Unfortunately, the string of Hong Kong tours de force may have just run out.
Director Kiwi Chow’s “A Complicated Story,” sounded promising.
It’s marketed as a serious expose dealing with a very timely issue in Hong Kong—surrogacy and the ethics behind it.
By the end of the movie, I felt like I was watching a daytime soap opera that desperately needed to be cancelled.
Yazi (Zhu Zhiying) is a Chinese graduate student studying in Hong Kong. Her brother, and only living relative, needs life-saving surgery. Of course, he can’t afford it. Yazi has a plan. Break the law.
She comes into contact with a lawyer, Kammy (Stephanie Che), who is looking to strike a bargain.
Yazi agrees to be a surrogate mother for a wealthy couple. She rents out her womb for nine months and gets money in return.
Yazi’s maternal instincts start to kick. She frolics in fields, falls asleep on a blanket in the grass, and rubs her pregnant belly. Guess it’s time to start planning a baby shower.
Or not. Kammy informs Yazi that the “secret power couple” isn’t interested in being parents anymore. Fueled by her newfound maternal instincts she refuses to have an abortion.
Game on. She runs away to keep her baby safe.
While she’s on the lamb, the biological father, famous tycoon Yuk (Jacky Cheung), shows up at her doorstep. He wants the baby after all.
Hey, why not ask Yazi to marry him? He and his “other wife” are getting a divorce, so sounds like a logical plan.
The whole situation starts spiraling out of control. Yazi has a boyfriend, but doesn’t want to sleep with him. Yuk is courting her, but she’s resistant.
Maybe Yazi is just confused.
Perhaps it’s all those pregnancy hormones. Or maybe she wants someone else. Enter the lesbian love triangle. I won’t spoil it with any more details.
The acting is laughable.
Yazi walks around in a dream world and Che’s portrayal of power lawyer Kammy is stiff and stereotypical.
I did learn some interesting facts. In Hong Kong, commercial surrogacy is illegal. In fact, all citizens are prohibited from making or receiving payments in surrogacy arrangements.
Unless, of course, you are rich, famous, well-connected or a politician. Looks like the characters in this movie are all guilty as charged.
If you are looking for an unfocused and laughable portrayal of a serious issue, you should see this movie.
If you want classic Hong Kong cinema, add some John Woo films to your Netflix queue. You won’t be disappointed.
If you go…
Running Time: 108 Minutes
In Cantonese with subtitles
Premiered October 6, 2013 at the San Francisco International Film Society’s Hong
Directed by Kiwi Chow