A lighthearted interclass romantic tale, Love interweaves stories of eight Beijing urbanites as they go about looking for happiness in rather clumsy ways. There’s the teenager who sleeps with her best friend’s boyfriend and has to decide whether she should keep her baby, the awkward guy with a stammer in love with a glamorous actress who may just be sick of her older sugar daddy, the completely inept real estate agent struggling as a single mom, and so on. This is certainly not the kind of China imprinted in the American imaginary, as the film indulges in convertible Maseratis, slickly decorated high-rise hotel rooms, pool parties, paparazzi references, K-pop aesthetics, and dinner parties for the one percent.
While Love can be a feast for the eyes, it all seems obnoxiously contained by a need to arrive at the most sentimental conclusions possible. It’s also neither very thought-provoking nor very fun. If the teenagers in the film could easily fit into Kaboom, their interactions are nothing short of soap-opera bathos. There does seem to be, at times, an interesting layer of social commentary begging to be tapped into as the women in the film are either pregnant and alone, abandoned single mothers, or sugar babies too in love with free designer bags and wine-tasting ennui to seek autonomy. But while the film may suggest that luxury is just a mask for psychological misery, it focuses on the more hackneyed messages of complementary heterosexual love and the nuclear family trumping all life obstacles in the end.
The betrayed teenager in the film, Ni (Amber Kuo), whose best friend sleeps with her boyfriend and gets pregnant, is the most interesting character in the film. She has the hot boyfriend, but is always about to lose him. She drives a red convertible, but feels socially inadequate. She’s not afraid of pulling a girl’s hair and calling her a bitch if she has to, only to later confess that behind the cool she’s also the kind of woman who walks into the most bourgeois of all dinner parties to just say, “You know how many African children can live on the money you spend tonight?” and leave. The response from the wine-tasting crowd is, “We donate money to them every year.”