Reviewer – Lucy Campbell
It isn’t very often that Chinese cinema reaches our shores. The 1990s decline in the Hong Kong industry has never seen it truly recover, and it’s unlikely that Pang Ho-Cheung’s ‘Love in a Puff’ will do much to resurrect it.
The premise itself is an interesting one, if a little thin: workers ostracised due to smoking laws huddle in designated smoking zones, swapping jokes, stories and little bits of their lives. Two of these smokers, Cherie (Miriam Cheung) and Jimmy (Shawn Yue) strike up a relationship. That really is the entire storyline; the rest of the film is a compilation of long conversations and stories and snippets of the first seven days of their relationship. The truthfulness of the unwritten modern dating rules is key: the muddled texting, Facebook editing, swapping phone plans and the awkward and uneasy conversations. But somehow, Love in a Puff seems lost in translation and the nuances of their conversations are forgotten in the cultural wash.
However gentle and charming ‘Love in a Puff’ may be, it still is pretty uninteresting when all is said and done. Points are laboured and the characters are sketches. It seems like a Chinese attempt at French-style cinema, but lacking the intricacies of the latter it loses interest mid-way. ‘Love in a Puff’ is awkward, a mish-mash of borrowings from other films and although there is an element of modern Chinese culture that is revelatory, as a film rather than a cultural essay ‘Love in a Puff’ proves to be a work in progress.
Kryztof rating 3K