Au Revoir, Mon Amour
1991 Directed by Tony Au. Starring Anita Mui, Tony Leung, Hidekazu Akai, Carrie Ng, Chui Siu Keung.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 19, 1994
A far cry from Hong Kong's current spate of historical kung fu epics, Au Revoir, Mon Amour is instead a literate, lush romantic epic. Spanning a timeline that runs from 1936 to 1946, the main portion of the film is set during the Sino-Japanese conflict, in occupied Shanghai, where lovely chanteuse Mui-Ye (Mui) has fallen for the idealistic Shun (Leung), a partisan resistance fighter intent on overthrowing the invading Japanese. There is little hope of this happening until the opening of the Pacific theatre in December 1941; at that point, the Chinese resistance gets a hand up from their American counterparts and things progress smoothly in a series of explosive montages. The main crux of Au's tale, though, lies in a romantic triangle between Mui-Ye, Shun, and a compassionate Japanese officer (Akai) who vows to take care of Ye while Shun is off working on various acts of sabotage. For a while here, it seems that Au Revoir is little more than a thinly repackaged Casablanca knock-off, but just when you think you've got it pegged, it goes off on another tangent and suddenly there are echoes of John Woo's Bullet in the Head. Regardless of the countless borrowings and homages, though, Au's film stands firmly on its own merits. It's a huge, sprawling story with a tight, emotional -- and thoroughly believable -- center. Filled with expressive camerawork and big budget effects, Au Revoir, Mon Amour is a Hong Kong epic of love during wartime, and, as such, it's one of the better period pieces to come down the Yang'tze in a long time. Recommended.