Directed by Johnnie To
Country: Hong Kong / China
The prolific Hong Kong film director, Johnnie To (“Election”, “Exiled”, “Drug War”), whose action and crime thrillers are regularly well regarded both by the public and the critics, steps into the musical comedy genre, bringing a few strong social messages that allow it to stand above the usual mediocrity presented in this type of farce.
Silvia Chang wrote it and stars with distinction as Winnie Cheung, the CEO of the cosmetics company, Jones & Sunn, whose premises work as a hub for the majority of its occurrences.
The loyal, proactive, and ambitious initiate, Lee Xiang (Wang Ziyi), who hates to wait in the line for the elevator, gets a job on the 71st floor, the executives' nest, and the one that gives him the possibility to dream of a brilliant future. On his first day, while constantly looking for the ideal postures and proper language to please his rapacious superior, David (Eason Chan), he gets the company of another beginner, Kat (Lang Yueting), a clever economist coming from Harvard, who happens to be the daughter of the chairman, Ho Chung-ping (the excellent, and yet modest this time, Chow Yun-fat). Her true identity is concealed and only Xiang was sufficiently perceptive to discover it, as he maintains a trustful, protective, and slightly flirting relationship with her.
In the office, the daily gossips run like a river. Besides identifying the daily corporate slavery and speculative negotiations, we soon get into the various rumors about the affairs within the organization - David and the completely unreadable Winnie; also David and the fragile, affianced accountant, Sophie (Tang Wei); and finally Winnie and Ho, who gets his daughter’s blame for his wife’s comatose state.
Here, the rhythm is high and the romance feels busy, taken from a confidently built screenplay that only lacks that eminent emotional touch to become a little more than just an agreeable entertainment. The musical moments, not so special as I would like them to be, failed to alleviate and give a palpable boost to the compact narrative.
Definitely, Johnnie To couldn’t make of “Office” the best vehicle to explore his strongest talents. Even unobjectionable in regard to its conception and execution, I keep craving his electrifying gang stories packed with warlords, cops, informers, and hoodlums.