C'est La Vie Mon Cheri


AKA: Cest La Vie, Mon Cherie

Year of release: 1993

Genre: drama/romance

Director: Derek Yee

Producer: Alexander Chan

Writer: Derek Yee

Cinematography: Tam Chi-Wai, Peter Ngor

Editing: Mei Fung, Kwong Chi-Leung

Music: Chris Babida, William Hu

Stars: Lau Ching-Wan, Anita Yuen, Paul Chun Pui, Petrina Fung, Carina Lau, Carrie Ng, Sylvia Chang, Jacob Cheung

Rated I for mild language

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C'est La Vie Mon Cheri  C'est La Vie Mon Cheri

C'est La Vie Mon Cheri  C'est La Vie Mon Cheri

Normally, a romantic movie where one of the protagonists suffers from a terminal disease is a recipe for disaster, at least for this grizzled so-called movie reviewer. But rest assured, director Derek Yee aims higher than the realm of Lifetime movie of the week territory this material would normally occupy, and makes C'est Le Vie, Mon Cheri into a romantic picture even those viewers who usually bathe themselves in waves of cinematic spurts of claret should be able to enjoy, at least if they go into it with an open mind.

A big reason why C'est Le Vie, Mon Cheri succeeds are the performances of the actors. This is the sort of stuff that can easily go into schmaltzy melodrama, but the actors give realistic and nuanced takes which makes the characters and their actions very believable and truthful. Both Lau Chin-Wan and Anita Yuen were unknown quantities as lead actors at this point in their respective careers, which makes the leeway Derek Yee gave them all that much more extraordinary. Bolstered with solid work from veterans like Paul Chun Pui and Petrina Fung, this is the sort of movie where even what normally would be mundane scenes are still interesting to watch.

Another positive factor here is the technical aspect, specifically the cinematography and editing. These sorts of things might not seem to be important factors for a romantic drama to be successful, but the look and feel of a movie is vitally critical, especially in an instance like this, where matters cannot seem too cinematical or "faked", lest the audience loses touch with the attempts at the presentation of actual emotion, instead of contrived ballad-laded slow-motion Vaseline-lensed shots that will have most viewers grabbing for an Excedrin rather than a Kleenex.

Though it originally came out to little fanfare, C'est Le Vie, Mon Cheri became a commercial and critical favorite, eventually taking home six Hong Kong Film Awards, including best picture. It has remained popular through the years since its' initial 1994 release, to the point that there was a twenty-nine episode television adaptation released in 2008. While it might not be the sort of picture many western fans usually associate with Hong Kong cinema, those people looking to expand their Asian cinematic horizons beyond chop-socky and gangster shenanigans will find this a very good place to start.