Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong
Starring Bryan Greenberg, Jamie Chung
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is the closest writer/director/producer Emily Ting has come to mainstream thus far. It’s too bad mainstream audiences first introduction to her work will look like a clear copycat of what Richard Linklater did with Before Sunrise. The comparisons are unavoidable, though Greenberg and Chung never come close to the intelligence or wit of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. When the actors here walk and talk it feels more like a rehearsed TV interview than an unexpected conversation. Ting’s attempt at flipping the stereotypes are commendable but the dialogue between the two 30-somethings is atrocious. Only in the second half of the film do we get any involvement from the outside world and culture of Hong Kong.
Josh (Greenberg) has stepped away from a weekend birthday party for a smoke when he notices Ruby (Chung) trying to find her way around Hong Kong. Josh, a Jewish-American from New York, works in Hong Kong, and has lived there for the past ten years. Ruby, a Chinese-American from Los Angeles, is visiting for the first time. Josh offers to walk Ruby to her destination, but their conversation becomes so flirtatious and engrossing, she doesn’t want the night to end, until he reveals why he must return to the birthday party. A year passes and the two randomly run into each other again, but much has changed and once again they go for a walk.
Everything the characters say feels so rehearsed and as if the actors themselves feel uncomfortable delivering the words.
The wavering camera work really gives an unprofessional slant to the cinematography. Though the clarity of the picture, especially how every light within the city seems to show up on screen in vivid color nearly makes up for the dizzying nature of the camera. It’s the dialogue however, that really pushes Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong towards an amateurish feel. “Hey Josh, I had a really great time getting lost with you tonight.” Everything the characters say feels so rehearsed and as if the actors themselves feel uncomfortable delivering the words. It’s too structured and fake, especially compared to the organic conversation from the very films Ting is clearly influenced by. It’s ironic that actors Greenberg/Chung are an actual couple and Delpy/Hawke are not.
The script attempts to be clever and modern as they discuss how immigrants and cell phones affect today’s society, but it’s almost painful to watch as the contrived subjects arrive like contents on a reality show. The scene at a bar in the first half of the film even feels like something from The Bachelor. The second half of the film feels more Lost in Translation. Despite it all this film does it make the viewer yearn to watch all the films this one copied. If Greenberg and Chung could have created characters that felt real and honest this might have worked despite the obvious Linklater rip off, but they never even come close.
An uncomfortable and contrived romance that spends too much time copying other films rather than creating its own path.