I never thought the day would come when I would recommend a Patrick Kong film. But hey, the end of the world doesn't feel so far off this year. Released during Chinese New Year, You Are the One
was actually the last film I watched in cinema before entering social-distancing mode, so it now holds a special place in my heart.
Writer-director Patrick Kong has made a name for himself over the past decade by cornering the Hong Kong market for local urban romances. Many of his films are quite forgettable though, unless they happen to star Stephy Tang and Alex Fong (and that well has dried up). Given Patrick Kong's past work and the film's cringe-worthy Chinese title, I went into You Are the One with fairly low expectations, and came out of it pleasantly surprised.
Patrick Kong's films are often overwritten with twists and deceptions (or terrible dialogue), but You Are the One feels just about right as a straightforward variation of the modern Cinderella romance. Carlos Chan plays a rich and unapproachable businessman who meets Gladys Li's poor girl-next-door through wacky circumstances. He swoops in like a Prince Charming, and the two go through the process of love, growth, separation and misunderstandings to figure out what really matters to them.
As generic as this may all sound, You Are the One is totally fine as a lighthearted idol-drama-type romance. The relationships are sincere and refreshingly free of the selfish cynicism of the director's most popular films. The comedy is silly without being grating, and the main characters are actually decent, likable people. Carlos Chan, whose acting ability can fluctuate greatly from project to project, gives one of his good performances, while relatively unknown TV actress Gladys Li shows great promise and spunk in her first film leading role.
Though mileage will vary depending on how much appreciation you can muster for a mostly cute and competent romance film with barely B-list leads, You Are the One is definitely one of Patrick Kong's better films, and I liked it far more than I thought I would. Turns out he can tell a love story without throwing love under the bus.