From friends to lovers?
- Bao Bei Er as Lu Yao/Larry
- Song Jia as Ma Li/Mary
- Jiao Jun Yan as Fang Hui Hui
- Zhu Ya Wen as Zhao Ben
- Mainland China
- Director: Wen Zhang
- Running time: 107 minutes
- Release date: July 15, 2016
Lu Yao has been in love with Ma Li since kindergarten, but has not confessed his feelings to her in fear of rejection. When Ma Li is heartbroken yet again, will Lu Yao finally muster the courage to say something?
Ok, so let’s start with a full disclosure: I’ve never liked Song Jia’s performance in anything and I mean anything. I would be more than happy to be proven wrong, but that moment has yet to come. To be honest, if it wasn’t for Bao Bei Er I probably would’ve skipped this movie entirely. Though I have not seen much of him either, I did like his portrayal in Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal and his onscreen persona in Running Man as a lovable goofball. I had hoped that this movie would capitalize on his image and provide some well timed comedy relief, however, though there are some attempts at humor, they are not well written or executed, resulting in what appear to be cheap shots at slapstick.
Other than my obvious disappointment in the comedy department and vehement dislike of Song Jia (she just perpetually looks like she’s bored or someone owes her money. Kristen Stewart of Asia, anyone?), the film’s plot is also very lacking. The long relationship (friendship? Love?) between the two main characters is one-sided for the majority of the movie, making Song Jia’s character (Ma Li) instantly unlikable as she comes and goes as she wishes with total disregard for a devoted Lu Yao (Bao Bei Er’s character). And then about two-third way through we are suddenly introduced to and are expected to accept the idea that perhaps the non-culmination of this relationship actually all comes down to bad timing, and Ma Li is maybe sort of in love with Lu Yao. Like what? This whole time Song Jia’s portrayal implies that Ma Li feels nothing for Lu Yao aside from pity so unless she has a major revelation off screen or she becomes so jaded by love that she is willing to go for the next available man, I remain unconvinced that anything about this relationship has the potential to change. To make matters worse, when stars seem to finally align for the main characters in terms of timing they randomly chicken out at the last minute, and we are left scratching our heads yet again wondering where did things go awry. In short, do they want to be together or do they not? #makeupyourmind.
And yet the absurdity of this movie does not stop there. There are so many unnecessary scenes that add little to nothing to the story. Are they there simply to make a fool out of Lu Yao and prove to the audience that Ma Li is never going to fall in love with a guy like him? I questioned why he is even remotely interested in Ma Li or why their friendship even exists because she clearly doesn’t even want to talk to him, but again we are given no explanation for why these characters behave as they do.
As Wen Zhang’s first directorial debut, this movie is neither here nor there – it doesn’t provide the satisfaction or romance needed for a fluff piece, but doesn’t have good enough writing to be thought-provoking. It’s like one of those stories written by high school students where a lot of things happen, yet nothing really happens. In the end I just felt like I wasted two hours of my time that I can’t get back. Definitely avoid if you can.
- Bao Bei Er graduated from the Beijing Film Academy and has been acting since. His father is a talent manager at a children’s theater in Harbin and his mother is a puppeteer for shadow play. He and actress Bao Wen Qian registered their marriage in 2014 but didn’t conduct the ceremony until March 30, 2016. They have been together since 2005 and have a daughter named Bao Ke Ai (her nickname is dumpling) born March 30, 2015.
- Song Jia is also known as Xiao Song Jia because there’s an older actress with the same name! She graduated from Shanghai Theatre Academy, but almost pursued music instead of acting (she studied liuqin since she was eight). She received the Golden Rooster Award for Best Actress for her role in 2013 movie Falling Flowers.
2 thoughts on “When Larry Met Mary/陆垚知马俐 (Film Review)”
After reading your review, even I won’t waste time watching. I’ve only seen her once and it wasn’t memorable. I’ve never seen Bao Bei Er ever. Chinese comedies are 50/50 for me. And these unrequited love stories for most of a movie haven’t pulled my heartstrings ever.
Glad I saved you the pain of watching this! I’m not actually sure the point of this movie is to pull our heartstrings – I have NO idea what the point was =\