In my growing apathy for this movie, I failed to miss this bizarre news which brought my interest back up a notch, and along with it many mixed feelings. As you may have read in early reports, this movie was supposed to show past, present, and future Chengdu, Sichuan, perhaps my favorite city. Well, it seems that the present-day segment, directed by the Korean director Heo Jin-ho, has become so commercially enticing that it is being developed into its own movie called Season of Good Rain, leaving the past and future segments in its dust. I feel sorry for the Venice film festival thinking that it invited a full movie to close its festival, but only ending upwith 2/3. I feel sorry for the other two directors as well. But at the same time, I’m almost rejoicing.
I can see the appeal of this decision. Who wouldn’t? A present-day segment where the leads look as pretty and fresh as Gao Yuanyuan and Jung Woo-sung along the backdrop of modern Chengdu is quite romantic (and there will be pandas involved, you can count on it). And I am glad that this is now, in its full-length form, going to be shown in Japan and Korea, which means Chengdu will get lots of coverage as a tourist destination, something it desperately needs after the earthquake. Many Chinese have changed their vacation plans to go to Sichuan after the earthquake and every additional bit of tourism revenue would help with rebuilding.
So from a commercial standpoint I like the idea. The other segments, being set in the past, did not have me convinced that they would make people see the magic of present day Chengdu, which was a major purpose of the film, seeing as it was partially funded by the city government . Nor do I think Cui Jian or Fruit Chan, as non-Chengduers would be able to capture it any better than the Korean director, simply because they are Chinese. They’re all not from Chengdu, and you don’t know Chengdu until you’ve lived there. In China, there may be muddled ideas of the metropolis, but outside the country, there are no preconceptions. Perhaps a completely outside viewpoint would be refreshing.
On the other hand, it seems so unprofessional and selfish that those behind the production decided to break from the original idea, after Heo Jin-ho finished his work and was pleasantly surprised at how it was some of his best (previous credits include other melodramas like April Snow). But the side of me saying, “cute romance movie!” is enough to push that uncomfortable thought to the side. I don’t care about the original artistic vision. If this movie can be good by istelf, and show Chengdu off, then that’s all I ask for.
It’s actually is ridiculously costly to hold a panda at the Chengdu reserve, should you even arrive at the right time for visitor interaction with them, but potential tourists in the form of moviegoers don’t need to know that. They can just sit back, relax and be enveloped of the cute interactions between two beautiful people and the magic of the city.
Meanwhile, the poster for Chengdu I Love You shows off only the present and past segments. And while interesting in itself, it doesn’t scream “beautiful tourist location” but is actually almost creepy. And thus I breathe a sigh of relief, with fingers crossed that this will turn out for the best.