I can’t remember the last time a Taiwanese film didn’t try to rip my guts out by the end, and even though Man in Love is a remake of a 2014 Korean film with the same name, it still gives that ‘ol Taiwanese gut-ripping try.
A-Cheng (Roy Chiu of the well-admired Dear Ex) lives a conundrum. He’s a brutal, violent debt collector with a major handicap in his line of work: empathy. A-Cheng often gives debtors breaks, pays for their financial difficulties himself and doles out much-needed life advice. When he develops a crush on one of his debtors (Tiffany Hsu), however, he tries to win her over using his gangster persona, much to her obvious displeasure—and Hsu does deadpan comedy well.
Yeah, yeah, it’s not even remotely close to original territory. The same plot was getting tired in the silent film era. But in fairness, Man in Love offers a good example of directorial confidence that seems to shout “Sure, I’m dated! But look at how cute I am!”
And oh boy, is it cute romantic escapism even if he massive tonal shift from rom-com to emotional melodrama might leave some nonplussed. It almost feels like director Chen-Hao Yin was fired mid-way through production, and like all films with confidence, it can taken a bit far. Man in Love is a film that stays too long, like how a cat who begs to go outside and then just sits there after you open the door, but even with its dated concepts, it’s easy to invest in the thing, and it’s even pretty funny. This is Bollywood-esqe, bright and wild, and an exploration of how men’s inability to understand performative violence never makes them desirable.
Its heart makes it worth a watch, even if its expression is off.
+ No, really, it’s cute as hell
- Overlong; uneven tone
Man in Love
Directed by Chen-Hao Yin
With Chiu and Hsu
Netflix, NR, 115 min