Monday, June 20, 2016

Movie Review - Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong

Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (2015)
Starring Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg
Directed by Emily Ting
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

A simple two-hander in the vein of the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy, Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is a winning, effervescent dialog-driven piece about a thirty-five year-old investment banker named Josh (Bryan Greenberg) and a thirty year-old toy designer named Ruby (Jamie Chung) who meet one night when the latter asks the former for directions while at a bar in Hong Kong.  Discovering that she was new to the country, expat Josh walks Ruby to her destination, making small talk the whole time, both aware of the undeniable attraction and connection they are experiencing.  Some unforeseen circumstances occur and their evening comes to an abrupt end, but a year later, the two meet up again while aboard a river taxi and another night of conversation may change the course of their lives forever.

Chung and Greenberg have nice chemistry with one another (they recently married in real life) and I had a smile on my face nearly the entirety of the film watching them "meet cute" in the beautifully filmed city of Hong Kong, but the film lacks the pretension that runs through the aforementioned Before series.  While the lack of pretension should seem like a positive, here it creates moments of simplicity that give this film a slight lack of importance (and don't quite allow the actors to connect as instinctually as they should).  While I found myself rolling my eyes over the literary or artistic babble that Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy spout in writer-director Richard Linklater's series, in director-writer Emily Ting's debut film Hong Kong, our duo jabbers on about Seinfeld.  There's nothing wrong with that -- and it actually elicited less of an eye roll from me than the Sunset series -- but it makes the dialog lack a little bite or heft at times.  That said, it also makes it seem more natural to me.  Sure, I may have graduated with an English Lit degree, but I don't go around talking about how important Shakespeare or Chekhov are.  In that regard, I related to Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong moreso that Before Sunset, despite the fact that I recognize that the latter is perhaps a bit better written.  [The lack of cursing or crudeness also made this seem more like my life -- while not rated, I think it'd garner a simple PG-rating.]

It's perhaps entirely unfair to compare Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong to Richard Linklater's series, but Ms. Ting must've known that the similarities would elicit such a response from critics.  In the end, I think that Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is actually a better film than Before Sunset (sacrilegious to say, I know).  Sure, Linklater's trilogy ends up winning overall because the director has since built two more movies that add depth to his already formulated characters.  But, the naturalness, simplicity, and charm of Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong make it a much more relatable piece to me.  Emily Ting has potential as a director and screenwriter, that's for sure, and her film is a rather joyous look at two people perhaps (or perhaps not) starting out on an unknown journey together.  As I said before, I was smiling nearly the entire time I watched this and, quite frankly, that's praise enough to recommend this, but should you need more of a push, it's also now garnering one of my better ratings of 2015.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+


  1. Yours is the second site I've seen review this film. You gave a better rating/review to it, and I tend to trust your opinion more--so I may end up watching this now. I've seen that guy in something else that was "very independent film" vibed. I think with Zoe Lister-Jones. I'm going to leave that lingering instead of looking it up on imdb.

  2. It's very simplistic, but if you get past the opening 10 minutes (where I think the two play their awkward introduction phase a little too "actorly") I think you may be pleasantly surprised. It's a nice diversion with two people who aren't jerks.

    As I said, I liked it better than the first movie in the Linklater series because I felt like the two characters in that first film were trying so desperately to be the obnoxious college intellectuals who I don't want to spend any time with. The two people in this film are a little older and it plays better for me.

    I'd be interested to hear your opinion. Admittedly, mine is the "best" review I've read for the film, so your mileage may definitely vary as others' certainly has.