A fussy stylist and a tomboy cabbie team up in "The Longest Night in Shanghai"
A fussy Japanese stylist and a tomboy Chinese cabbie go all through the night in “The Longest Night in Shanghai,” a well-paced, fluidly-lensed romantic dramedy with a peachy part for Mainland thesp Vicki Zhao. Full of local flavor without becoming a tourist brochure, pic is weakened by a lack of chemistry between the two leads, with Nipponese actor Masahiro Motoki too wooden opposite the sprightly Zhao. However, with director Zhang Yibai’s name attached (“Spring Subway,” “Curiosity Kills the Cat”), Asian-centered events may flag this down.
Script invents enough semi-convincing reasons to keep together Naoki Mizushima (Motoki), in town for some music awards, and feisty taxi driver Lin Xi (Zhao). Neither speaks a word of the other’s language and Naoki can’t even remember the name of his hotel. As his assistants and bozo interpreter (Hong Kong’s Sam Lee) search for Naoki, love blooms between several players, including Naoki’s crazy agent (Naoto Takenaka) and a pert female cop (Zhang Xinyi). Pic shuttlecocks between the corny and the involving, but Zhao’s natural perf and Shanghai itself (always front and center, knitted into the action) keep things watchable.