Handsomely lensed Hong Kong pic leans too hard on a drippy narrative and the wall-to-wall tunes of Ketchup.

An ensemble melodrama stuffed with sudden flashbacks and odd coincidences, “Merry-Go-Round” is a handsomely lensed Hong Kong pic that leans too hard on a drippy narrative and the wall-to-wall tunes of Ketchup, a jangly folk-pop band that tries and fails to channel the late Elliott Smith. Alternating between the late ’30s and the present, writer-directors Yan Yan Mak and Clement Cheng tell of Eva, once a flirtatious young nurse, now a regretful old pharmacist who struggles to keep a mortuary biz in the family. Skedded to open in Hong Kong in November, “Merry-Go-Round” will do most of its spinning on DVD.

Other characters include Nam (Ella Koon), a young punk-style chick and compulsive photo-snapper who begs crotchety Hill (Teddy Robin Kwan) for a job at his Tung Wah Coffin Home, managed by real-estate agent Allen (Lawrence Chou). On the advice of an old friend (and a fortune cookie), Eva (Nora Miao) goes looking for her late grandpa and finds him at the Coffin Home before tossing greedy Allen to the ground in anger. There’s a twist or two, but Cheng and Mak too often confuse soap operatics with profundity.

Merry-Go-Round

Hong Kong

Production

A Dragonfly J production, in association with Post Production Office, Tung Wah Group of Hospitals. Produced by Yan Yan Mak. Directed, written by Yan Yan Mak, Clement Cheng.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jason Kwan; editors, Mak, Terence Yung, Stanley Tam; music, Ketchup; production designer, Mak. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Dragons & Tigers), Oct. 8, 2010. Running time: 124 MIN.

With

Nora Miao, Teddy Robin Kwan, Ella Koon, Lawrence Chou, Lu Yulai. (Cantonese, English dialogue)

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