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Playing at Select Theatres (Please check local listings)
Give Me Five (哥, 你好) is a hilarious Chinese light sci-fi and romantic comedy where Xiao Wu (Chang Yuan) is worried about how Hongqi (Wei Xiang), his father, can go on. He lost his wife when this boy was born and more than two decades later, has Alzheimer’s. It’s sad to see him lose his memories, and thankfully his son has an idea. Xiao believes any mementos he can find can help. In what he discovers is a magical ring and his mom’s diaries.
When reading them, he learns about how his parents met. But it all stopped in 1991, and māmā never hinted at what would result in her disapperance from their lives. Little is known about how she died, and what we discover is heartbreaking. All we need to observe is in how Xiao is looking out for his father. Ever since Daliu (Ma Li) is gone, these two simply no longer understand each other. In this film, they are often very argumentative. Xiao’s heart is in the right place, but what is the missing story?
If this theme sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a time-honoured trope. To see it examined here tugs at the heartstrings. And as for whether Xiao can alter the past, to give his parents that happily ever after, there’s a deeper conflict at work here–can destiny be changed?
Although this story takes a few ideas from Back to the Future, it ventures into all new territory by the third act. That also includes the famous pose found in this movie’s marketing. In truth, it may well be meant to riff on a Chinese salute. This tale set in the heartland of China recognises other aspects about why this country is great. Here, national pride and recognising community is important. Another detail includes recognising Daliu as a fiercely independent spirit and intelligent woman. It’s rare to get this in Chinese cinema, and I’m glad the filmmakers are ready to express it.
Also, we don’t have a carbon copy of Biff, who would give the not-yet-to-be-in-love couple problems. He doesn’t have any significant role in the film.
Xiang and Li are very charming when they’re young. Between the guy’s awkwardness and her in control, there’s much to like in this pairing. Young love is one thing, but to see them age reveals much more, and how that attraction becomes looks at what one promises for another should those vows said in marrage get challenged. To note, the story is actually set in the 80s and looks at life in a factory town. Everyone knows each other, and as for who they are now is very different from when they were young. Give Me Five is kind of like Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” in that regard.
And to look at everything that Xiao’s mom has helped, even though she doesn’t know that’s her son she’s interacting with, says a lot more. That message alone makes this film tops, and I just recommend keeping a box of tissues nearby.
4 Stars out of 5