The “Meet Cute” “one night in [Insert City Here]” romantic drama is a difficult film to get right. The dialogue has to be realistic but not shallow, the actors have to tone down their personae and form a real connection with each other, the characters’ events have to feel organic without feeling dull, and the imagery has to be alive without being overt. Because there is so little to the movie that can distract from insufficiencies in one category or another, no singular element can truly fail without its effects being felt in all other sections of the movie.
Emily Ting’s It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong has an interesting twist to the formula – one that could go so wrong so easily – she cast a real life couple. Jamie Chung plays Ruby, a single Asian-American woman temporarily in Hong Kong on business. Bryan Greenberg plays Josh, a Jewish American ex-pat who has been working in finance but really wants to be a writer. On her way to a night out with her girlfriends, Ruby gets lost in front of Josh who leaves a birthday party to usher her around town. Unlike so many real life couples who can’t convey their love on the big screen (i.e. Madonna and whomever she’s shacking up with), Chung and Greenberg possess a natural warmth together that surpasses the relative lightness of the screenplay.
There’s another twist to the formula: halfway through Tomorrow, the night concludes and then we catch up a year later to follow the couple for another night in Hong Kong. The effect is not unlike having a double feature of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, but on fast forward. This gamble has a varying effect depending on who you are. At only 78 minutes, and having to cover two separate nights, the screenplay is all but stripped to the bone, with little time for anything but rote mechanics and getting to know you chit chat. The resultant feel is a bit like that rush of urgency where you remember only the strong emotional beats of the night, but all the various bits of idle connective tissue fall by the wayside.
At just over an hour, It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is a light and breezy romance that pleasantly fills time, in less time than two episodes of your favorite drama. It’s a valiant effort from a first time narrative director (Emily Ting’s other feature film, Family Inc. was about her rejecting her taking over the family business), even if it seems a little TOO breezy and light.
It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong streams on Netflix