Duo ming jin (2011)
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- Life Without Principle
- 107 min.
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Good drama envolving 2 or 3 stories which tie together. I enjoyed the way each of these stories is patiently told before getting to the point where they tie up.
Johnnie To's Life Without Principle is a hard one to get into, but it is ultimately interesting. Like Babel or Crash, it's a film that uses a specific issue - in this case the economic crisis brought on by Greece's bankruptcy - to explore its impacts on a variety of characters whose lives criss-cross. There are really three major strands, all connected through the same loan shark who's making big bucks thanks to the crisis. The first is an underperforming investment banker trying to sell stocks to wary and even vulnerable customers. We spend so much time with Teresa that it feels like this is going to be her film, a sort of banking drama/comedy that might elicit laughter as much as puzzlement. It feels very true to life, but it's not the kind of thing you'd think would make engaging cinema. For me, it works. We then move to the story of a dim-witted triad enforcer desperately trying to get the money together to pay off another gangster's bail, and subsequent foray into financial trading. This too has its fun moments, and definitely more violence than the banking bits. And then there's the story of a police inspector and his wife who desperately wants to buy a flat, and the niece he didn't know he had. This is the weakest part of the film because it's not really resolved. Just too many subplots for its own good. I can still say I've never seen a Johnnie To movie I didn't at least find interesting, but Life Without Principle doesn't quite become greater through the sum of its parts.
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