REVIEW / ROMANCE
FINDING MR RIGHT 2: BOOK OF LOVE (PG13)
131 minutes/Opens tomorrow/2.5/5 stars
The story: Jiajia (Tang Wei) is a casino hostess in Macau who keeps making bad life choices. Frank (Wu Xiubo) is a real estate agent in California with an ulterior motive who strikes up a friendship with an elderly couple. Their paths cross, thanks to a book, 84, Charing Cross Road, and thus begins a correspondence in which they share their joys and frustrations with each other.
To be clear, this has nothing to do with Finding Mr Right (2013).
The leads - Tang (Lust, Caution, 2007) and Wu (television series Sword & Spy, 2009) - return, but as different characters, with the same names, in a new story.
The association makes even less sense in Chinese - the title is When Beijing Meets Seattle 2 - as the film is largely set in Macau and California.
While the first film ripped off beloved rom-com Sleepless In Seattle (1993), this time, returning writer-director Xue Xiaolu turns to a book for inspiration. Helene Haniff's 1970 work is about a 20-year correspondence between the author and a bookseller.
An epistolary romance in this day and age is quite a stretch, then again, believability is never quite the point of rom-coms.
The bigger problem is that Jiajia and Frank are rarely in the same place at the same time, and to get around it, Xue conjures up scenes in which one imagines talking to the other - making the point that how they imagine each other to be is not exactly how they are.
Tang and Wu have an easy rapport and it would have been nice if the film had kept its focus on them. Sure, include the sweet old couple Frank eventually finds himself genuinely caring for and the rich customer offering to pay for more than Jiajia's time to flesh out the main characters.
But other minor players, such as a card-counting gambler and an unhappy China student, could have been done away with. Thirty minutes could easily have been shaved off the too-long running time.
As things stand, two rom-coms in and Xue still has not got it right.