Hua li shang ban zu [Office] (2015)

Hua li shang ban zu
Director: Johnnie To
Writer: Sylvia Chang
Cast: Sylvia Chang, Yun-Fat Chow, Eason Chan, Wei Tang, Ziyi Wang, Yueting Lang, Siu-Fai Cheung, Tien-Hsin, Stephanie Che, Timmy Hung, Kin-Kwan Chu, Adrian Wong
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018

Ho Chung Ping (Yun-Fat Chow) runs a very successful company with Winnie Chang (Sylvia Chang) and they are about to take the company public. But with that move comes a lot of office politics, rivalry and interpersonal tensions. Caught up in it are two new assistants on their first day: Lee Xiang (Ziyi Wang) and Kat Ho (Yueting Lang). Lee is all optimism about his new job, while Kat desperately tries to hide the fact that she is Ho Chung Ping’s daughter.

Office is a musical that is generally underwhelming but has one of the greatest sets I have ever seen, making up for a lot, albeit not everything.

The film poster showing a group of people in business attire leaning on the word "office".

The set design for this film is really something. It’s beautiful and creative, draws heavily on theater and stage designs. There are basically no walls at all on stage, and the transparency works nicely for an office environment where things are anything but. It’s both impressive and expressive and absolutely stylish. In short, it really floored me.

But the rest of the film didn’t. The story the film tells feels pretty run of the mill, apart from the fact that it’s a musical which is, admittedly, unusual. Unfortunately the music itself was so forgettable, it kind of negates that novelty bonus: there isn’t a single melody I remembered right after watching the film, let alone now.

Sylvia Chang in the film.

I admit that I did fall asleep for a little while during the film. But I didn’t feel like I missed much, especially since the film felt much longer than it was – and it wasn’t exactly short to begin with.

The overall effect was middling. I was as indifferent to the rest of the film as I loved the sets. And while the sets really are extraordinary, that’s not enough to make for a good film.

Yun-Fat Chow and Yueting Lang in the film.

Summarizing: Still worth seeing for the sets.

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