Anna Magdalena (1998)
Reviewed by: lordmanji on 2000-12-05
Summary: Half Poetry/ Half Entertainment
Anna Magdalena boasts a cast of commercial powerhouses, the three main stars being Aaron Kwok, Kelly Chen, and Takeshi Kaneiro. One would expect a very commercially formulaic film, but halfway through it takes a detour from commercial and as the name itself suggests, this is no ordinary Hong Kong love story from that point on.

The plot revolves around Takeshi, AAron, and Kelly's love triangle. AAron and Kelly for a good deal of the movie attempt to consumate a relationship, while Takeshi waits in the wings, happy for his quirky offbeat friend but at the same time wanting to kill him (strangle sequence; hilarious stuff!) for ruining his chances.

This is told in a very conventional way. Not until the second half kicks in is the theme of the story more clear -- that we all have a love, whether we find it and consumate it is entirely left up to both fate and chance, as AAron was Kelly's love (half-consumated) and Kelly was Takeshi's love (unconsumated). AAron represents the freewheeling soul never meant to love fully, and just as Kelly is Takeshi's unfulfilled dream, AAron is Kelly's.

This is explained in the second-half of the movie, and it is such a twist from the conventional first half that I wondered if i popped in another vcd by accident when changing to disc two. However traditional the first half is, the second half is not -- it is outright quirky, humourous, and philosophical -- and it works.

The entire movie is very well-acted, from AAron's goofy annoying but lovable character to Takeshi's bookworm, except for Kelly Chen's lukewarm rigid performance. The second half especially has beautiful cinematography, with gothic atmosphere while at the "castle" and vibrant, poetic imagery in the meadow while Takeshi waxes on philosophically. The 2nd half's premise is from pure imagination, and it works magically. All in all, the characters lovableness and subsequent humor, and half-orignal script makes this movie a delight for the eyes, mind, and heart.

* Added bonuses - Watch for cameos from Jacky Cheung and Leslie Cheung!