Right November 7, 2013 Justin Chang Unwieldy and exasperating, but not without a certain pushy, ingratiating charm, Xue Xiaolu’s smash hit “Finding Mr.
Right” turns out to have a bit more on its mind than its generic romantic-comedy title would suggest. success stories, it plants Xue firmly on the map as a mainland filmmaking talent to be reckoned with (she made a prominent 2010 debut with the Jet Li starrer “Ocean Heaven”).
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The very picture of bratty self-entitlement, Jiajia is an intensely dislikable piece of work.
Upon her arrival in the chilly Washington suburbs, she immediately begins heaping abuse on her patient driver, Frank (Wu Xiubo), who takes her to a home maternity center run by the kindly Mrs. There, Jiajia wastes no time in making a nuisance of herself, barking outrageously inconsiderate orders and throwing wads of cash around to ensure that they’re enforced.
As you’d expect, Jiajia’s comeuppance arrives right on schedule, just in time for the holidays.
When her lover stands her up at Christmas and later cuts off her cash flow, she must learn the hard way that money isn’t everything while facing the prospect of raising her child alone.
On hand to facilitate these lessons is Frank, a divorced dad who gave up a successful medical career in China to come to the U. With his quiet, tolerant demeanor and sad-sack goatee, he couldn’t seem a less likely match for the proud, vivacious Jiajia, which of course makes their eventual union even more of a foregone conclusion.
(Naturally, she hits it off with Frank’s daughter, Julia, played at different ages by sisters Song Meihui and Song Meiman.) As predictable as the outcome may be, Xue’s patchwork script is in no hurry to get to its “Sleepless in Seattle”-inspired romantic climax, the inevitable culmination of its endless visual and verbal references to that Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan perennial.
But first, there are babies to be born, relationships to be reconciled, Western-pop-scored montages to be edited.
There is no shortage of topical touches, acknowledging the rise of “birth tourism” among wealthy foreigners and critiquing the rampant consumerism of modern China.
The film’s heart seems to be in the right place even at its most confused, as when it presents a warm, affirming portrait of a lesbian couple, then trots out a swishy gay stereotype a few beats later.
Against considerable odds, it’s Tang’s initially grating, ultimately winning performance that sustains this messy but endearing enterprise from start to finish.
Sentenced to a five-year ban from Chinese productions in 2007 after her participation in Ang Lee’s racy “Lust, Caution,” the actress looks fully rejuvenated here, seizing into this material with such vigor and ferocity that you can almost see her delighting in her newfound freedom.