Shot in 1996 in Hong Kong, Comrades: Almost a Love Story by Peter Chan is a romantic drama on the complicated relationships of the Chinese couple. The film is a beautiful love story that takes place during the period of the political tension between China and Hong Kong, and the director’s main aim is to convey the atmosphere of the immigrants living abroad. Being a winner of the numerous awards, thus approved by the critics, Comrades: Almost a Love Story also touches the audience’s feelings by the director’s trenchant analysis of the destined love contrasted with the alienation of the mainlanders in Hong Kong.
Though shot twenty years ago, the film by Peter Chan is still admired by the contemporary audience due to the director’s profound approach to his work of art. Comrades: Almost a Love Story represents a touching story happening during the true historic period thus becoming unique and curious to the European and American viewers and at the same time, – understandable and familiar to the Asian ones (namely Chinese). Twenty years later, the audience finds some aspects of the story unusual but the language of the lovers stays the same from decade to decade.
Today, when the system of communication has developed to the unbelievable extent, it is not so easy for the young contemporary audience to imagine how the main characters could have no idea about each other’s development of lives and only get the news when finally met. Pagers instead of mobile phones also seem weird. But what is absolutely familiar to those who went through leaving the birthplace to live in another country is the alienation the person experiences. The main characters’ unique connection is based on this very mutual alienation in Hong Kong, and all the viewers can confirm that the first people to meet in the new country will stay in the immigrant’s life as the most faithful friends.
“In a movie where looks and glances often take over from dialogue, both thesps reach to the heart of this generous portrait of human nature ()” (Elley). The viewer is able to feel the rare type of connection between the two people – the lovers are truly the twin souls. The film covers the period of ten years so it is fair to say that the main characters are the significant others who in spite of time and distance still came together to make the unified whole. Their love was so absolute, it was not damaged after ten years.
The alienation of the main characters in the new society made them closer to each other and made it possible for them to create their own unique world (Stafford). The director intentionally highlights their mutual love to the singer Teresa Teng thus proving that no matter what the country of residence and the financial status are, the spiritual connection based on the happy shared past is inevitable and permanent.
The audience enjoys the director’s ability to intertwine the factors contributing to such a unique and at the same time common story – “Underlying its turbulent romance are the history, economics and personal circumstances that drew many Chinese into Hong Kong” (Gelder). The couple would never be together if they had not gone the long difficult way from China to Hong Kong and finally, North America. If there were no troubles with economy of China, the main character would unlikely go to Hong Kong; if the danger of the Communist regime were not so severe, they would not move to New York City. The director demonstrates how everything in life has a reason.
The attentive viewer might notice the curious decision the director chose for the ending of the movie. To show the cyclic nature of life, he framed the relationships of the characters in terms of alienation – that is how they met and loved each other for the first time in Hong Kong and that is how they finally managed to stay together with no pretenses in New York. The lovers made a long journey, and the destined love found its place.
Elley, Derek. Review: ‘Comrades, Almost a Love Story’. Variety.com, 1997. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.
Gelder, Lawrence Van. Film in Review. Nytimes.com, 1998. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.
Stafford, Roy. Comrades, Almost a Love Story (Tian mi mi, Hong Kong 1966). Itpworld.wordpress.com, 2008. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.