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Before We Fall in Love Again

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The plot and aesthetics of Before We Fall In Love Again, the first of the three films that will be shown in Sinema by Director James Lee, has intrigued my imagination.

Similarly to the film Waiting For Love, it deals with a different perspective of love between two people. Before We Fall In Love Again begins in medias res with a husband, Mr Chang, plagued with the sudden disappearance of his wife. As he searches, he meets the wife’s long time lover, Tong, who is also searching for her.

The two of them then embark on an imaginative journey to the past as the lover recounts his past relationship with Ling Yue. The narrator of the series of flashbacks become blurred with the telling of the husband’s relationship with her.

After retelling their stories, they find a possible link to her disappearance. A letter written to Ling Yue’s first love that was never sent led them to a pub outside town where her first love, Chang Wai Fai, was. However, to their dismay he was of no use to them. With that they went back and gave up looking for her.

All memories of her were destroyed by both husband and lover. Incidentally, they meet each other at a wedding banquet one year later with no mention of Ling Yue at all.

The film, shot in black and white, shows the bleakness of the situation. It is only the end sequence that colour is introduced, perhaps signifying that the characters have moved on with their lives.

An interesting part of the film is the relationship of the characters as seen through the dialogue. Certain lines and actions are repeated at different times to different people in different circumstances.

This slight mirroring of characters that occurs throughout the film provides an intertwining of lives and memories that they have. Extending that idea to life could imply the connectedness we have with each other and the certain things we have in common in relationships. So much so that the character of Mr Chang does not display anger towards the lover, Tong, but instead has a rather pleasant conversation with him. It is a strange sight to see.

A question that the characters ask each other is, “Why do you love me?” It is an important question to be answered since the the flashbacks sets it up as a woman loving two men. And a question to ask before that is, what kind of love does she have for each of them?

There is an eerie scene in the film where she recounts her first love and also the first time she lost her virginity. It may not seem like much but I feel it is a key component of the question, “why do you love me?” She reveals that she does not know why she fell in love with him.

The feeling I get from the character of Ling Yue is that she loves them and is together with them for self-gratification reasons.

In this book called Brida by Paulo Coelho, in a very small nutshell, he speaks about how every person is somewhat part of another person which is why we sometimes feel an affinity with another person(s). Perhaps, it is that feeling of affinity that she is looking for.

Because little information about Ling Yue is provided to us, we are curious about who she really is. We only hear what she’s like through the perspective of the two men which, makes her all the more mysterious, to the effect that her disappearance to us is overshadowed by the immorality of her actions.

By the end of the film, our sympathy is felt not for Ling Yue but the two men who are searching for her. Even though we don’t know why or where she disappeared to, as the title goes, it is not about her we’re concerned about but the two men who fell into a trap of unexplainable love.

Before We Fall In Love Again will be the first of James Lee’s love trilogy screening at the SinemAsian showcase, ‘Filem Bagus!‘, held at Sinema OldSchool, on the 28th of February 2009.

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