A Movie Review by Angelu Rucel F. Cabali
The 2013 Kiwi Chow film based on Yi Shu’s novel of the same title, ‘A Complicated Story’ isn’t so much as a tragic and heart-clenching complex of a movie. The ‘complicatedness’ of the story instead lies in the piled-up secrets and unexpected turn of events a single decision brought about.
University student Liu Yazi (Jacqueline Zhu), out of financial need, agreed to be the surrogate for Tracy T (Cherrie Ying), a celebrity married to a billionaire. According to her contract, Yazi was to have no claim over the babies during and most especially after the contract.
However, the contract was abruptly terminated by Tracy five months later, therefore Yazi was asked to undergo abortion. Yet Yazi refuses and instead goes into hiding. That is, until Yuk Cheung (Jacky Cheung) finds her to claim to be the father of the twin babies Yazi is carrying. Yazi turns to her ex-boyfriend Law Chun Ming (Yi Zi) for support, and contacted once again Kammy Au (Stephanie Che), the lawyer supervising the surrogacy contract.
Kammy confirms that Yuk is Tracy’s ex-husband, and their divorce is the reason for the termination of contract. Since Tracy can’t bear a child, she decided to get a surrogate while Yuk is abroad, planning to fake her pregnancy. Yet the divorce was filed, and fearing that she wouldn’t get money out of it once her secret is found out, she terminated the contract.
The movie was strategically split into three parts to tell the story through Yazi’s, Yuk’s, and Kammy’s points of view. In terms of plot, it was satisfactory because the web of secrets were untangled as the story progresses.
One major secret that was supposed to be a loophole is the legibility of Yuk as the father. His sperm cell is needed for the surrogacy, and it’s not like Tracy keeps samples of such around. Alas, it was revealed that he is not the babies’ father. Yet the real one was not named, either. It is safe to assume that a random sample was implanted.
The character treatment is also realistic. Yazi’s character is very commendable because of her independence and strong will. She is not swayed by the decisions the people around her are trying to force on her, and instead stays firm with her resolve. And she has great stealth and survival skills for a pregnant woman.
Yuk is portrayed as the very realistic one. As someone who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, trying to bribe Yazi with money to claim the babies is very likely. And it is entertaining how he took a liking to her and started to court (and stalk) her.
Kammy is another notable character because of the tragedies she had to face, prior to and well after dealing with the selfish Tracy. She finds a friend in Yazi, eventually blooming into a romantic attraction, yet even that brought about major consequences. Hers is the truly tragic and sad life – successful but alone. And that actually happens in real life.
The other characters were equally realistic as well, such as Tracy staying a gold-digger until the end and Chun Ming growing into a stronger man as he moved on yet stayed as Yazi’s good friend.
Technicality-wise, no shots were wasted. Each shot had a purpose to the ongoing scene. A memorable one is the wide shot of Yuk hurrying to leave the park where Yazi was waking up from an afternoon nap. The shot was able to capture both actions even when large trees were in between them.
There was also minimal use of background music, leaving it up to the actors to build up and sustain emotions and viewer interest. No one overacted nor underacted. The makeup and outfits suited each character, too.
Even the movie title and opening credits were symbolic, what with the stretched out strokes of Chinese characters as if to say that this story is a long line of complex interconnections.
Aside from discouraging abortion, ‘A Complicated Story’ empowers one to not to be easily swayed by heavy burdens, as well as teaches to be vigilant of too-good-to-be-true dealings. It is so easy to be reckless, to have our judgment clouded, when emotions overwhelm us. Yet it is also important to take responsibility of the mess you put yourself in, working your way to rise above it and learn from it.