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.