The end of adolescence is the time for eternal triangles and other teenage tribulations in “b420,” a beguiling Macau-based comedy-drama with a Wong Kar-Wai Lite taste. Feature bow by seasoned a.d. Mathew Tang (“Time and Tide,” “Comrades, Almost a Love Story,” “Crime Story”) preemed this April at the Hong Kong fest, with no theatrical release yet confirmed. Asian arthouse and fest slots are likely destinations.
On the Web site http://www.b420.com, elfin Koey (Miki Yeung) and her high school buddies document the dreams they wish to fulfill before leaving adolescence behind. Top of the list for this instant-gratification girl, who likens life to drinking Coke before it loses its taste, is to get a job.
Hiding her drop-out status from her spiritualist grandma (Betty Luk), Koey starts peddling subscriptions curbside for satellite TV. After a battle of sidewalk hawkers sees her lose her job, she hooks up with pirate-DVD merchant and former motorbike champion Willy (Sam Lee). The pair begin dating indifferently, despite the Web site’s revelation that losing her virginity is high on Koey’s “to do” list.
Observing this relationship, Simon (Ben Hung), the ballet dancing son of Koey’s new gift shop employer, pines for the attention of the free-spirited girl. Through the anonymity of an Internet chatroom, Simon uses the name “Jenny” to become privy to Koey’s on-line romantic confessions. In the real world, Koey is oblivious to Simon’s amorous fantasies.
Helmer’s obvious talent and the first-rate perfs keep pic’s tempo breezy, but the transition to fully-fledged drama (courtesy of a ransom scam at the three-quarter mark) is not entirely convincing. Similarly, minor plot strands which tie Koey’s Web site buddies to the main drama are awkwardly executed.
Thesp Yeung recalls Faye Wong in “Chung King Express” but brings enough vitality to her role to make Koey memorable. Lee also impresses as the haunted Willy, and Luk brings a sensible maturity to the role as Koey’s grandmother.
Story could be set anywhere, but the relatively under-used location of Macau gives pic a fresher atmosphere. Lensing is indie H.K. standard.