The Hong Kong melodrama directed by Peter Chan is undoubtedly one of the best melodramas and love stories in the author’s repertoire. The theme of love and relationships in this film is developed in a very gentle and sensual way. Moreover, the film provides the viewers with the opportunity to feel and understand the poignancy of this romantic and sweet story. Despite the main theme of love, the movie also tells a story about self-development of the people from province, who leave their homes trying to earn money and become the citizens of prosperous metropolises. The paper concentrates on the analysis of the film from the perspective of money value presented by the melodrama.
Comrades, Almost a Love Story depicts the life of the main characters and the relationships between them that were developing during 10 years. The main male character Comrade Li and female character Li Chao, both coming from the province and dreaming of a better life, meet in Hong Kong. From the early morning till the late night they work hard to earn a living. In the frantic pace of Hong Kong, the characters find each other and become intimate friends. However, their relationship is not that simple because Comrade Li has a girl who is patiently waiting for him in his native village. The film is shot in a beautiful and plausible manner, as such moments as the touching scene of the heroes’ first kiss and the scenes where Li Chao demonstrates care, respect and carefulness, look very genuine. The movie demonstrates the problems of the Chinese society and the challenges a young person faces in a big country. Moreover, the film brings a lot of pleasure to the viewer thanks to the perfect team of actors.
While Comrades, Almost a Love Story is mainly a romantic drama, it also presents the uniqueness of McDonald’s, the first usage of pagers and credit cards. The movie demonstrates the challenges the character meets while trying to make money in order to break out into the world and to make his dream come true. Moreover, the film shows the huge value that money has in the modern Chinese society. The movie also demonstrates the influence money has on social relations, for example, the film shows that native Hong Kongers do not respect the people who come from the province that makes foreigners to conceal their place of origin by any means. Li Chao, who works at McDonalds and fluently speaks Cantonese and English, seems to be a native Hong Konger, while Comrade Li, who has funny Cantonese accent and do not know English, reveals his province origin at once. As a result, Comrade Li is perceived by native Hong Kongers to be a pauper. That’s why employers offer him only humiliating jobs till the time when his level of Cantonese and English improves.
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The film appears to be an idiomatic metaphor of the transformations happening to Hong Kongers at that time. In the first part of the movie, the main characters, who are typical bushmen from the mainland China, leave their home to go to Hong Kong. They try to earn money by selling pirated audio cassettes, delivering chickens and working in McDonalds. After the main characters overcome a range of tragicomic challenges, they become practical and quirky Hong Kongers. However, they lose each other during a long search for money and prosperity. In the last part of the film, the heroes meet on the streets of New York. They achieve everything they have been dreaming of – they have become the citizens of the world with its opportunities open to them. The external and internal metamorphoses of the characters, that could hardly happen in reality in such a short period of time, demonstrate evolution of three generations: beggars from the mainland, thriving citizens of one of the Asian Tigers and Hong Kong immigrants of the 90s.
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One can undoubtedly claim that money is very significant. One of the most important issues raised in the film relates to the value of money. The motive that makes mainlanders leave their home is not love, friendship or any other romantic feeling, but striving for money, social status, and prosperity. Money is a commodity that makes them leave their families, homes and their beloved. In one of the movie scenes Xiao-Jun is shocked to see Li Chao’s credit card balance, when the main heroes come to the cash dispenser for the first time to check the amount of money on the credit card. Li Chao, in her turn, shouts to Xiao Jun asking not to watch at the possessions of a rich girl. Such extreme care and love towards money can be easily explained using the example of the letters to Xiao Jun’s beloved, where Comrade Li mentions that he earns such amount of money a month as the mayor of their town earns a year. Huge value placed on money is also demonstrated when the main hero visits McDonalds for the first time and asks for some pieces of McDonald’s paper to write the letters on. In his opinion, letters written on McDonald’s paper demonstrate his personal growth and social status to the people from his village.
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In a long run, the main characters achieve everything they want – Comrade Li gets a good job and Li Chao meets a gangster, who helps her to establish a business. However, money improves the material side of life but does not improve the moral and emotional sides of life of the protagonists. Having achieved financial stability and social status, the main characters lose the most significant thing – they lose each other. Moreover, some time later Li Chao’s partner gets into trouble and money cannot protect him. As a result, he is obliged to leave the country and later he is killed due to his financial avarice. The main heroes move to New York where they have to begin everything from the start.