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Comrades, Almost A Love Story (Tien Mi Mi)  

Chinese title: Tien Mi Mi

Peter Chan: Director

Leon Lai............... Xiao Jun Li
Maggie Cheung...... Qiao Li
Eric Tsang .............Pao Au-Yeung

Year of release: 1996

“Tien Mi Mi” (literally “Honey Sweet Sweet”) is the name of a classic Taiwanese love song known in some form or another to all Chinese immigrants. First sung by Teresa Tang, it colors the film with its gentle melody, a metronome by which all the pace and moods of the film are regulated by. At the end of the film, its tune echoes out from the window of a building in New York’s Chinese quarter, symbolising its accompaniment of the Chinese diaspora, a touch of home in an alien place.

Tien Mi Mi is a tale of two people: one, a naïve immigrant, full of hopes and good will (Xiao Jun Li, played by Leon Lai), and the other, also an immigrant but more ambitious and materialistic ( Qiao Li, played by Maggie Cheung). Across the years and circumstances, their paths continuously cross, and their feelings remain strong.

Though a romance, it is not a fluffy production. There is a rich texture and background against which these characters cope with their lives and the circumstances. Included among these characters are Xiao’s eccentric aunt, a brothel madam who continuously relives her youthful memories of a romantic evening with a Western movie star; and Pao, an unsophisticated, brusque gangster whom Qiao marries and later decamps with to America. The film is also about the immigrant experience, about Xiao’s attempts to fit in, and Qiao’s rejection of her roots and identity to re-invent herself in the new country. Throughout it all, Tien Mi Mi gently plays, like an echo of home, doubling as a love serenade, ending the movie with a surprising, but simply beautiful ode to love and the human condition.

Review by Eden.

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