Love in a Puff 志明與春嬌 (Chi ming yu chun giu) [2010] • Hong Kong

A foul-mouthed little romance here. Lots of f-bombs and dick or boob jokes tossed around to try and elevate this fairly standard rom-dramedy from the pack. It's not too offensive or juvenile and it's shame to have to get it through subtitles. I'm sure the original Cantonese is more subtle and euphemism based, and crude is always more palatable when it's subtle or funny. Love in a Puff has a CAT III rating and it's not for nudity or all the cigarette smoking.

The premise of Love in a Puff is one all cigarette smokers will be familiar with. The "smoke break" is a time to bond with co-workers or friends, to make plans and share stories, and, in this case, tell dirty jokes and gossip. It's also an opportunity to massage in baby steps a possibly romantic relationship. There's a lot less "Is this a date?" pressure than even just meeting for coffee. There's a pre-determined end time and it comes quickly. If things aren't going well the suffering is short-lived and if there is a spark you'll leave wanting more. Always a good thing.

Zoom out from the premise and Love in a Puff makes many observations on modern SMS-based relationships, budding and otherwise. Something I learned, and put to use, from this film is if you type "i n 55!W !" (without the quotes) into a text message your recipient might see it as some nonsense code, but if they turn their phone upside down it will read "i miss u !". How cute. And appropriately enough, that little tidbit is the catalyst for a couple of the larger emotional transitions in the film.

I like small films like this, the cinematic equivalent, if you will, of a smoke break. Without aiming too high it's easy to hit its mark. It's well acted, and well scripted for the most part, and doesn't veer from its target too often, which is following the seven day courtship of Cherie (Miriam Yeung) and Jimmy (Shawn Yue). Yeung is especially crisp in her performance. There's a wonderful little "no shit!" moment near the end of the film when the two of them are in a small battle about who they are and what kind of relationship they're in and Cherie declares "I'm simple and straightforward". She is.

My only quibble with the film is an unavoidable one. To go from "My name's Cherie", through moving out of the premises and bond of one relationship, to "I'm simple and straightforward" in seven days requires a brisk pace. Maybe that's the way it is these days. There is a time or two where it seems like a little exposition might have ended up on the cutting room floor but maybe things are clearer in the original language and subtitles short of an essay couldn't translate it. Most of the screen time is devoted to the main protagonists, garnished with a handful of side characters and set pieces that don't detract from the lit up screen chemistry required of all good Rom-Coms and provided by Yeung and Yue. All in all a fun time was had with Love in a Puff.



  1. Even thoug this film was so mondaine (the reason why I didn't like it at all), it is true that it actually never bored me. Not because it was so good, but because I kept thinking: "but maybe the film will go deeper in a few minutes"...

  2. I know that feeling, have experienced it myself watching a film some times. I was happy with how this one just plugged along, though.