Fly Me to Polaris (1999)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-12-03
Summary: Romantic with a capital
Cecilia Cheung certainly started her film career with a bang. “Fly Me to Polaris” hits all the sentimental, bathetic and mawkish changes with the subtlety of a Yao Ming slam dunk. It is a formula weeper, a tasteless trip into the heart of a cloying fairy tale and so sickly sweet it should carry a Surgeon General’s warning that it could cause diabetes. In other words it has a role that almost any actress would love to do and Cecilia wrings every drop of pathos from it. She was terrific. My wife cried a lot, I cried more than a little and I think our cat shed a tear or two.

Richie Ren was amazingly unannoying, William So was along for the ride and the very attractive Sheren Tang was funny and appealing. Eric Tsang showed another side—a “real” side, if you will—of human mourning in his quiet anguish over his daughter, a drug addict who he loved as only a father can love a daughter but who has as lost to him as if she were dead. It was a very touching, low-key performance. The last shot he is in has Jumboball stoically burning paper money as part of a funeral ritual. We don’t know if he is doing it for Onion or for his daughter and it is all the more heartbreaking for its ambiguity.

Jingle Ma shot part of this movie and whoever lit and shot the scene in which Autumn runs through the hospital at night calling alternately for Onion and Kruek is an absolute master of his trade. The steadicam operator following Autumn up and down stairs, around corners, from light to shadow, did a great job. It was a thrilling scene, seamlessly shot and edited in one long take that worked beautifully.

Whoever found or designed the hospital/dormitory setting was a genius. It was full of secret places, stairways going nowhere and blind turnings. But it wasn’t sinister in the least—it was a lovely place, gleaming with fresh whitewash and full of flowers and tropical plants. There were simply a lot of places in which a person could be either alone or with others simply by walking through a door or turning a corner.

The score was so over the top as to defy description. It was just there, constantly underling the already obvious emotional content of scenes, making sure that even the most obtuse audience would know it was time to be happy or sad.

The plot was as straightforward as a movie plot can be. There were no villains—the yuppies accidentally killed Onion when he tripped into the path of their car were shown later kneeling at a makeshift altar on the spot where he died, showing the proper respect. Dr. Wu, Onion’s only challenger for Autumn’s heart, was a well meaning but very dull medical professional.

It would be churlish to point out any of the many shortcomings of "Fly Me to Polaris" and it is recommended for anyone who wants a good emotional wallow.
Reviewer Score: 7