Isabella (2006)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2006-04-25
Summary: Indulgent
I'll be struggling to say very much that's good about this movie, despite the Berlin Film Festival logo on the poster.

The pace is leisurely. The timeline is mildly chopped up, but this adds only a little to the level of interest. Not a lot of any consequence happens. The story is basically a two-hander, about the at-first-awkward relationship between a bad cop and a lost-looking teenage girl.

Many scenes run for too long. I'm not sure whether to ascribe this to editing or direction - probably the latter - but the pace could have benefitted from quite a lot of judicious cutting.

There are some bright spots. Any appearance by Anthony Wong, no matter how brief, is always appreciated. Anthony must have packed on the calories with this role, as he spends all of his on-screen time enthusiastically chomping. Considering his apparent relationship with the lead actor, I was surprised to read his role in the end credits as the Superintendent, as it appears that he's more like an informer.

The scene where the cop tutors the teenager in bottle smashing technique, using a row of posts as subsitute heads, is one of the few moments of real warmth and humour. Also, I suspect that the Macau tourism bureau had a hand in the making or funding of this film, as the characters go through an at-times-picturesque tour of the attractions of the little former colony (which was just about to become a former colony at the time the story was set, mid-1999).

The main problem I have with this film is that the lead characters are so unsympathetic, and the film has no other standout qualities which make up for this lack. Because the cop is such a prick - and this is clearly established at the beginning - I couldn't have cared less about what may happen to him, even as he appears to mellow somewhat as the relationship progresses. And apart from unsympathetic they are, despite the best efforts of the script to show them otherwise, shallow.

The impression I was left with at the end was of a low-rate attempt to remake Days Of Being Wild without the star power. Overall, I'd say this movie is competent but dull.
Reviewer Score: 2