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December 17, 2009

Forever Yours

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Qing shen si hai
Yi Wen - 1960
Panorama Entertainment Region 3 DVD

Of the five DVDs in Panorama's "The Grace Chang Collection", Forever Yours is the only one that is not a musical. No singing or dancing of any kind is to be found here. Yi Wen's film is a melodrama, and a pretty good one at that, closer in spirit to the films of Delmar Daves and Douglas Sirk, if more modest in scope and expression. Even Chang's character is closer to her Hollywood counterparts not only in her vivaciousness, but her ability to be assertive when necessary.

At a beach with some friends, Yiling spots a man standing at the edge of a cliff. As it turns out, suicide might not be on his mind, but Weiming moves to firmer ground upon meeting the young woman. Yiling works as an office girl at a Pepsi plant, pursued by a very determined Weiming. Caught in the rain, the couple finds temporary shelter in a modern house overlooking a beach. For Weiming, the idea of being alone with Yiming is heaven.

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This being a melodrama, Weiming has incurable tuberculosis which in no way is helped by his incessant smoking. Weiming's brother is an alcoholic, and the aunt and uncle who adopted the orphaned Yiling, don't approve of her relationship with Weiming. Even worse, Weiming is told by his doctor that marriage is virtually guaranteed to cut off years from his short life.

If Grace Chang portrays the modern woman of Hong Kong, Kelly Lai Chen might be said to embody a different kind of man as Weiming. There could be said to be an emotional gender switch, especially in a scene where Weiming breaks down and cries in front of Yiling. There is some gender play suggested in scenes where Liying is shown to have some position of authority at the bottling plant, while Weiming is an artist of sorts, with his miniature nature arrangements.

To what extent Forever Yours made an impression on Wong Kar-wai, it might be worth noting two connections with Wong's In the Mood for Love. Grace Chang is frequently seen in a cheongsam dress, as are several of the other women, particularly in the scene of Yiling and Weiming's wedding reception. Also, Kelly Lai Chen, who had virtually retired from acting at the young age of 35, has a cameo appearance in Wong's love letter to Hong Kong of the early Sixties.

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Forever Yours is available individually or part of the "Grace Chang Collection" from HK Flix.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at December 17, 2009 12:34 AM