A Moment of Love caught my attention as it stars two of my favorite people, Liu Shi Shi and Vic Chou. They’re definitely a couple that never crossed my mind but when they’re side by side, I’ll be expecting a lot of pretty on my screen! It played on a few theaters in China and It’s doing alright on box-office (9th place during its first week), It’s definitely not popular enough to be considered a box-office hit but it’s receiving pretty decent reviews from the fans. The movie was released with minimal promotions, it was very low-key in fact so I can understand why is it not garnering more hype although the leads are big stars in the Chinese entertainment industry.
It’s not your conventional intense romance as it centers around a simple premise, two strangers travel together in an unfamiliar place for different reasons and they embark on a journey of love. Some people might find the story a bit bland but I really appreciate the simplicity as the director breaks away from the conventions and not adding in unnecessary elements that might interest more audiences.
This is a movie totally about love, with no impurities added. Love can be categorized into many different types, the family kind of love, friendships, romance and A Moment of Love managed to smoothly blend all these into a simple and moving story. As what the movie’s tagline says, “Love is not a destination, It’s a journey”.
Would you join this journey of love with me?
NOTE: Beware of spoilers as it contains a brief summary so read at your own risk.
Our heroine, Ji Ya-Qing (Liu Shi Shi) is an editor of a travel magazine, she’s engaged and getting married to her fiance, Cheng Zhi-Yuan (Zhou Yi Tuan). In the beginning when she was trying out wedding dress in a bridal shop, we were shown a glimpse of the nature of their relationship, Ya-Qing is always the one compromising to his decisions, part of the reason is also because she’s quite soft and mild-tempered so she tend to be very passive to him. Zhi-Yuan a busy workaholic, cool-headed and a gentleman, but also a bit of chauvinist that likes to put things into his hands so he tend to neglect Ya-Qing’s feelings at times.
Ya-Qing replaces her co-worker, also her best friend, Vivian (Liu Yun) at her request to go for a business trip to Yun Nan Pu’er and write about the experience for their magazine’s anniversary issue. Vivian is pregnant so she is unable to go for the trip. Vivian advise Ya-Qing to cherish her fiance as she thinks that he is the perfect man for Ya-Qing. However, the bride-to-be, Ya-Qing is not very excited for marriage as she thinks that her fiance never give her a decent marriage proposal and feels that the whole marriage feel very rushed. Vivian advises her to relax and enjoy this business trip as her last bachelorette adventure.
In Yun Nan, Ya-Qing encounters an artist, Xu Nian-Zu (Vic Chou) in the hotel as she mistook a pack of letters that have her name written on it. It turns out that those letters are written by Nian-Zu’s late grandfather to an elderly woman that shares the same name as Ya-Qing. Nian-Zu comes to Yun Nan in search for the old lady to grant his late grandfather’s wish. However, he lost his bag that contains his passport and cellphone during his search. To retrieve his lost bag, he borrows Ya-Qing’s contact number in the police station. In return, Ya-Qing asks him to be her driver as she cannot drive but needs a car to get around to source for article materials and it will be more convenient for him to search for the elderly woman too. Thus, they embark on a journey together.
During their trip together, they slowly get to know each other and Ya-Qing feels at ease around him. Nian-Zu who was depressed at first also became happier because of her companion as they enjoy the beautiful sceneries of Yun Nan and experience a lot of fun with the locals. Nian-Zu is very reserved, gentle and mild-tempered that he immediately clicks with Ya-Qing as their temperance suits each other. Slowly, they feel mutual attraction and their feelings grow even stronger with the more time spent together.
This growing affection throws Ya-Qing into a dilemma as she can feel her stirring heart for Nian-Zu but she is about to get married. Ya-Qing confides to Vivian that she feels happier when she’s with Nian-Zu as Zhi-Yuan never think of her feelings and she’s always forcing herself to compromise with his decisions. She starts wondering to herself whether love is a strong impulse or a result of planning and calculation. She starts to feel doubts about her upcoming marriage as she truly feels unhappy with Zhi-Yuan in comparison when she’s with Nian-Zu.
At the same time, Nian-Zu have a hard time finding the elderly woman that his late grandfather loved for many years. His grandfather couldn’t keep his promise to meet her so Nian-Zu tries his best to fulfill his last wish. There were many times that he felt hopeless during the search but it was through Ya-Qing’s encouragement that motivates him to continue searching for the elderly woman.
For the two strangers, the journey is like a healing trip for the both of them. Nian-Zu is a troubled soul, still preoccupied with his grandfather’s last wishes that he’s unable to fully enjoy the trip. His encounter with Ya-Qing brings out the best side in him as he’s able to forget his sorrows through their fun journey, her companion made him feel like he’s not all isolated in this world. Ya-Qing is clearly not ready for her upcoming marriage as she doesn’t feel as happy as what a normal bride-to-be should feel. She was always so compromising to her fiance that even when he objected to the wedding gown she’s been dreaming of for months, she never try to voice out her opinion. Their whole relationship feels very one-sided as it felt like only her fiance that’s controlling the whole process. Whereas she could be herself with Nian-Zu and his companion makes her feel at ease as they walk through unfamiliar places together.
While their relationship is not a passionate one, there’s this understated tacit mutual understanding that I love about them. Just like soulmates, they found solace and understand each other even though they’ve only known for a short period of time. Their encounter was fated as Ya-Qing share the same name as his grandfather’s lover, they’re bound to cross path in that hotel. It was really an indication that while Nian-Zu’s grandfather couldn’t be with his Ya-Qing, he have a chance be with the Ya-Qing he loves and that’s a way to fulfill his grandfather’s incomplete love. If Ya-Qing hadn’t replaced Vivian for this trip, she might have become a bride right now but meeting Nian-Zu became a reminder to her that she don’t love her fiance and the man who managed to evoke a strong impulsive emotion from her might just be her true Mr.right. It was like a self-discovery trip for Ya-Qing as she realized how she truly feels deep inside.
Nian-Zu tries to compensate his longing by searching for the woman his grandfather loved for decades. Nian-Zu couldn’t get to see his grandfather in his last moments as he was busy with work so it filled him with regrets. It eases his sorrow to be able to see the woman his grandfather love and tell her how much his grandfather loved her. The loss and regrets became his driving force to find the elderly woman. Even till the last days of his grandfather’s life, Nian-Zu is still on his mind. The strong bond between Nian-Zu and his grandfather is just so heart-warming.
While the love between Nian-Zu’s grandfather and the elderly woman may not be the central of the story, it is definitely the highlight as it is so poignant even with just the bits and pieces of the romance told in the story. The eternal love and purity that the elderly couple share is so moving that I was in tears before I know it. The relationships in this movie are portrayed in such a subtle and raw manner that easily makes me feel vulnerable, ooof!
Watching this movie feels like sipping on a cup of warm tea in a cold day, it was a little bit bittersweet and it left a warm fuzzy feeling in me. Even the OST are so soothing and the cinematography uses such a warm color pallette that perfectly fits the feel-good, low-key ambient.