September 30, 2022

<p>In post World War II Germany a woman, named Nelly, is brought home having survived a concentration camp, but her face is ruined, bloody and bandaged, requiring reconstructive surgery. Her entire family is dead, she doesn’t recognize herself, and her husband may be the one who turned her into the Nazis.</p>

A movie about the effects of the American mortgage crisis on the Chinese market? And it’s a musical about love? I’m in.

Office nails something that Hollywood’s been struggling with for a while: How to make a classical musical movie that feels modern.

A movie about the effects of the American mortgage crisis on the Chinese market? And it’s a musical about love? I’m in.

Office nails something that Hollywood’s been struggling with for a while: How to make a classical musical movie that feels modern.

Stage musicals are such overstuffed long affairs filled with big emotions, it can be difficult to find the necessary room to make them work within a movie. Often the result is exhausting, even if it’s not terrible. They just pound a square peg into a round hole. As the demands and mechanics of big budget movies have become increasingly complicated, it been a struggle for movie makers to execute on making musicals. We just don’t get that many of them, and the films we do get are generally very flawed. If nothing else Office serves as an example that this is simply a problem of execution. This is an excellent star studded musical, it’s just coming out of China and not Hollywood.

The movie takes place mostly takes place on one giant wireframe set, that gives the movie a sense of theatricality and physical space, but still allows for a myriad of interesting camera angle set ups that keep the movie visually engaging. The movie is shot incredibly well. It’s a joy to look at and finds the balance between allowing the choreography to to be intricate while still giving the camera the freedom to explore the space. Director Jonnie To’s experience with action movies serves him well here.

This movie doesn’t redefine the genre, and while it is dealing with the themes of love, intimacy, loneliness, loyalty, and the effects of a highly competitive business environment on all of this, the characters do live right at the surface. I’ve never believed that a good story needs deep characters though; a good story needs the right characters. A movie like this with a large cast, that wants to explore the different sides of the same shape needs characters that the audience can understand immediately. They may lack internal depth, but the movie uses them with and against each other to make up for it.

This movie is a delight.