The article was first published on EasternKicks
The script is based on the novel July and Ansen by Qing Shan and tells the story of two girls, from the moment they become friends at 13, and through a number of intervals, to their late 20s.
Their relationship is defined by their differences, since July is a well brought-up “princess” from a nice family and Ansen an outgoing, bold girl whose parents have actually abandoned her (her father is dead and her mother is constantly missing). The presence of a man, Jia Ming, is what makes them fall apart, as they start to discover themselves and their differences, while growing up.
Derek Tsang directs a very tender film that manages to combine elaborately elements of romance, drama, and coming-of-age, while exemplifying the fact that he seems to understand women. The story is told in flashbacks, since it starts with a chance meeting between Ansen and Jia Ming, with the former informing her that July is writing a novel based on their lives, and then goes to the beginning, when the two girls were still thirteen years old. These flashbacks, however, are wonderfully implemented in the story and quite understandable. In that aspect, the editing team (Le Dianshi, Derek Hui, Tan Xiang-Yuan and Zhou Xialoin) has done a great job. The ending is also great, although quite sad, as it offers a number of unexpected plot twists, that make the experience of watching Soul Mate even better.
Two factors alleviate the production above the many in the category. The first is the pace, which is quite fast for the category, not lagging at all actually, maybe except the ending for a little bit. The second is the elaborate mixture of image and music, with the sound heightening the sense each image wants to give. I dare say that, in that aspect, the film reaches the standards set by Hollywood productions. Those two factors, which exemplify the great work done in the sound department by Zheng “Joe” Huang, and Jake Pollock and Jing-Ping Yu’s cinematography, along with the great editing, make the film a truly entertaining experience.
The two protagonists, Sichun Ma as July and Zhou Dongyu as Ansen are great in their parts, as they play two very different characters, whose antithesis, actually, forms their bond. The fact that their personalities are mirrored in their actual appearances is another great asset of the film. In that aspect, gorgeous Sichun Ma looks like a prom queen and Zhou Dongyu like a rock’n’roll queen. Toby Lee as Jia Ming has a secondary role, but he plays it in adequate fashion, as his looks, definitely make him worthy for a role as the bone of contention. The fact that all characters, despite their faults, are very likeable is another trait that adds to the general aesthetics of the film and should be accredited to both the script and the actors. SoulMate is a truly wonderful film that manages to reinvigorate a preterite genre with artfulness in every aspect.