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September 21, 2017

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They love and they bluff

"Love in the Buff" (春嬌與志明) is a revelation on the sophistication of romantic relationships in urban Hong Kong and mainland China today.

After a macabre and rather random opening chapter that serves mainly to get our attention, we learn that Cherie (徐春嬌) and Jimmy (張志明) are a couple and banter with each other in scathingly honest Cantonese.

But lately, their relationship has hit a low. Jimmy forgot to attend the birthday dinner for Cherie's grandmother and brought his clients to a barbeque that Cherie hopes to be a personal time. At the same time, Jimmy relocates from Hong Kong to Beijing for work. He meets flight attendant Youyou (尚優優) on the way and starts a new relationship with her.

Six months later, Cherie is also dispatched to Beijing for her job, and bumps into Jimmy and Youyou. From there on, Cherie and Jimmy start an on-again, off-again affair where they cannot decide whether they want to go separate ways or reunite.

Reflecting both realities and anxieties about the power shift between Hong Kong and Beijing, "Love in the Buff" works both the nostalgia of Hong Kong's past and the intoxicating euphoria of Beijing's rise.

As for nostalgia, Cherie tells Jimmy during their rendezvous of her pas relationship with Ekin Cheng (鄭伊健) — played by the iconic Hong Kong star himself in cameo. And in Jimmy's mind, nothing surpasses the microwave spaghetti from Hong Kong's convenience stores as gourmet food.

As we follow Cherie, Jimmy and their social circles, we see Beijing as a middle class playground with young professionals hopping between posh restaurants, bars, dance clubs, lounges, gyms and hotels to indulge in the urban life and bask in each other's company.

In addition to Cherie and Jimmy, played by Miriam Yeung (楊千嬅) and Shawn Yue (余文樂) respectively, the vivid characters around them make "Love in the Buff" delectable.

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