Year of release: 2004
Genre: romantic comedy
Director: Matt Chow
Producers: Joe Ma, Ivy Kong
Writer: Matt Chow
Cinematography: Ko Chiu-Lam
Editing: Azrael Chung
Music: Chung Chi-Wing, Ben Cheung
Stars: Lau Ching-Wan, Carina Lau, Cherrie Ying, Andy On, Coco Chiang, Hiro Hayama, Lawrence Chou
Rated IIA for mild language
Movie Review Index
B-list actor and part-time director Matt Chow has not had much success in his handful of trips behind the lens, with most of the releases he has put out being rote romantic comedies that came and went, barely raising a peep. Probably Chow's best directorial work came in 2004 with Itchy Heart, where a fine performance from Lau Ching-Wan manages to slightly elevate what is otherwise yet another unremarkable entry in the genre.
Taking inspiration from the classic American comedy The Seven Year Itch, Lau plays Chi-Man, a man who has grown bored in his marriage to Coco Chiang (who is simply named "Mrs. Poon"). When the missus leaves on a solo vacation, Chi-Man takes the opportunity to sow his wild oats, both with a young woman, Cherry (Cherrie Ying), and an old flame, Bing (Carina Lau). Chi-Man's feelings for all of the women start to deepen, forming a "love rectangle", and so he must decide who to spend the rest of his life with.
To say that Itchy Heart is a cinematic display of male fantasy is an understatement to say the least. For nebbishy Chi-Man to have not one, not two, but three lovely women seemingly at his disposal is something that the audience will have to have some sort of suspension of disbelief in order to get through the movie. Even though Chi-Man is basically a nice guy, one still finds it hard to buy that all three women would be willing to stay put and wait for his decision, and then take it with smiles on their faces. The women here are the total embodiment of the "jade vase" mythos -- great to look at, but empty inside.
This is not to say that Itchy Heart is misogynistic or mean-spirited. Much of the humor is not directed at the women, but comes at the expense of Chi-wan and Bing's doofus meathead boyfriend, Will, who is played by Andy On in a rare comedic role. It's just that at the end of the day, since the circumstances around Chi-Man come off as so wholly unbelievable, it becomes hard as an audience to become truly invested in what happens to him.