As a cinematic lodestar, "An Affair to Remember" is to "Sleepless in Seattle" as "Sleepless in Seattle" is to "Finding Mr. Right," a runaway smash at the Chinese box office this past spring. Lovers unite, or are meant to unite, atop the Empire State Building in all three. But this import is far from some cheap counterfeit — it is as slick and effective as anything rolling off a Hollywood assembly line.
Tang Wei of "Lust, Caution" stars as Wen Jiajia, the high-maintenance paramour who gets a Birkin bag from her benefactor every holiday. In order to carry their love child to full term, she flees to Seattle and checks into a makeshift "maternity center" where midwife Mrs. Huang (Elaine Jin of "Yi Yi") harbors expectant Chinese visitors overstaying their visas. Jiajia's chauffeur, Frank (Wu Xiubo), is a heart surgeon turned stay-at-home dad after immigrating to the States to care for his daughter. Jiajia and Frank are about as unlikely a pair as it gets, so any love in the air is hard earned.
Interestingly, not one American cultural reference here gets lost in translation. In some ways the film is superior to the Nora Ephron material it pays homage to: "Finding Mr. Right" recalls early Ang Lee films such as "The Wedding Banquet" and "Pushing Hands," only with a bigger budget and more gloss. Its depiction of esoteric facets of immigrant life lends an air of credibility seldom seen in rom-coms; and its inevitable happy ending is so progressive that it makes Hollywood seem old-fashioned.
"Finding Mr. Right." No MPAA rating. Running time: 2 hours, 3 minutes. At AMC Atlantic Times Square 14, Monterey Park.