'Degrassi: The Next Generation'

Smooth direction and rich lensing make this an easy sit, but the fluffy script doesn't add up to much.

A beautiful circus acrobat falls for a petty crim in “Mini,” a lightweight romantic drama that’s largely a showcase for two good-looking Asian stars, Malaysian-born Angelica Lee and China’s Liu Ye. Smooth direction by Jin (the fine, understated drama “Chrysanthemum Tea,” 2000) and rich lensing by d.p. Yang Tao make this an easy sit, but the fluffy script, full of metaphysical voiceovers, doesn’t add up to much, making this one strictly for Asiaphile fests.

Mini (Lee), an aerial performer in the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe, falls for grungy vidstore owner Kang (Liu). He’s a goal-less loafer who steals people’s wallets as a hobby. She’s a wistful, hard-working innocent whose parents divorced when she was young and whose mom moved to Hong Kong 10 years ago; an uncle from Canada (Hong Kong’s Roy Cheung), with shady business connections, is her only confidant. After time in prison for pickpocketing, Kang falls in with some gangsters, shattering Mini’s dream of a life together. Lee makes the most of an idealized character but never seems to quite connect on-screen with Liu, who scowls his way through a wastrel role. Other credits are all pro.

Mini

China

Production

A Western Movie Group, Xi'an Film Studio, Shanghai Liquid Element Co. production. (International sales: Xi'an Film Studio, Xi'an, China.) Produced by Wang Dawei. Directed by Jin Chen. Screenplay, Zhao Chuan, based on the novel by Wang Anyi.

Crew

Camera (color), Yang Tao; editor, Tao Wen; music, An Wei; art director, John Xing; costumes, Song Yang. Reviewed at Shanghai Film Festival (Panorama), June 19, 2007. Mandarin, Shanghainese dialogue. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Angelica Lee, Liu Ye, Zhang Yao, Roy Cheung.
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