Movie review of “Only You”: This dull Chinese remake of the 1994 Norman Jewison comedy stars Tang Wei and Liao Fan as a petulant pair delaying their inevitable romance. Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.
A romantic-comedy potboiler that recaptures little of the charm of its 1994 prototype, the original “Only You” (starring the young and gleaming Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.), this 2015 Chinese remake about real and perceived destinies mostly challenges one’s patience.
An almost note-for-note recreation (minus a couple of useful, explanatory details) of Norman Jewison’s sunny movie about a pair of lovers taking a very long time to figure out they belong together, the new “Only You” hardly belongs to a narrative tradition that includes Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night.”
The pleasure in these will-they-or-won’t-they comedies is the tension that comes from delaying the inevitable. It’s crucial for the lead actors to be both lovable and share a visible chemistry.
Movie Review ★½
‘Only You,’ with Tang Wei, Liao Fan. Directed by Zhang Hao, from a screenplay by Zhao Shao, based on a story by Diane Drake. 114 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In Mandarin, with subtitles. Meridian.
That’s lacking in the new Zhang Hao version, which finds actress Tang Wei (Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution”) playing the lovely but one-note Fang Yuan. Engaged to a dull dentist, Fang has harbored a belief since childhood she is destined to marry a man named Song Kunming.
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Days before her wedding, Fang discovers a man named Song Kunming is in Italy, and she rushes off to meet him. Instead, she has an encounter with Feng Dali (Liao Fan), who initially tricks her into believing he is Song, but then confesses his deception.
Feng spends the rest of the film paying for his sin, even as he seemingly tries to make things right. This stuff might work, as it has before, if actors Fan and Wei offered more than surliness and petulance in their performances, and if director Hao’s camera made even Florence look like more than a disposable postcard.