ReviewWriter: Nurliana Kamaruddin
Writer Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
It's in the music that you will find the soul of this movie. It's the music that crafts the emotions of the story - happiness, sadness, yearning, distress and even humour. It's the music that ultimately becomes the salvation of this movie. When the story line falters and when the the depth of the actors were lacking, the music comes through strong and fluid, sweeping you away and allowing you to forgive the shortcomings of Taiwanese pop sensation Jay Chou's directorial debut.
Chou stars as Lun and the movie tells his story, a piano-playing extraordinaire who recently transferred to Tamkang Secondary School. There, he befriends a mysterious girl named Yu (Kwai Lun-Mei) who shares his love and passion for music. True to the title of the movie, Yu keeps a 'secret' from Lun. As their friendship develops, Lun soon finds out that the secret was something he'd have never guessed.
As brilliant as the music has been, the movie itself sorely lacks in several departments. No brownie points for you if you guessed that the first grouse is Jay Chou's acting. It's commendable of course, that he spoke more in the first twenty minutes of the movie than in all the lines he has had in both his previous movies combined but that doesn't change the fact that he is merely Jay Chou on screen and no more. So much so that there were times where he looked downright uncomfortable playing the supposedly easy-going Lun.
Worse is when Chou's up against a brilliant veteran actor like Anthony Wong, who plays Lun's father, Chiu. The awkwardness becomes even more apparent. Wong, unlike Chou, relished the role of the doting, eccentric father. His comic timing is right on the money, earning him a few real laugh-out-loud moments. Chou's stiffness aside, the pair is quite entertaining, bringing with them the father-son chemistry that they had carried forward from "Initial D". One would think Chou has more chemistry in this pairing than that with his leading lady!
On the other hand, Chou definitely does a better job behind the camera than in front of it. The movie, though a little rushed in the beginning, kept a good, interesting pace throughout. The story didn't drag and each scene was mindfully made with the level of interest a viewer might have on the subject matter. Cinematographical beauty wasn't lacking either - with a lush, sprawling mountain backdrop for the young lovers, musty rooms and grand pianos lending to the idea of elegant romance - something with a Shakespearean quality to it.
In the end though, you leave the cinema with the image of Chou's fingers dancing over the piano keys, creating that extraordinary music. It will be the image of Chou playing the piano one-handed, playing two pianos at the same time, and playing the piano with his upturned face in dream-like bliss. That is what makes this movie worth the watch. As I said, its salvation. Music, so it seems, really can
be magical.Cinema Online, 23 September 2008