Schmaltzy, overlong and a bit tedious, “Only Cloud Knows” is based on the true-life story of two Beijing transplants living in Auckland, New Zealand, who meet, fall in love, marry and face an unremarkable series of ups and downs (with one especially big “down”).
The movie, directed by Xiaogang Feng from a script by Ling Zhang, follows Dongfeng (Xuan Huang), self-named “Simon” for Kiwi ears, as he spreads the ashes of his beloved late wife, Yun or “Jennifer” (Caiyu Yang), among her favorite spots. Meanwhile, Simon flashes back on their warm romance, one they grew to believe was guided by luck and fate. (Isn’t everyone’s?)
What happened over the years? They moved to rural New Zealand, opened a successful Chinese restaurant, hired and befriended a free-spirited server (Lydia Peckham), discovered they couldn’t conceive a child, adopted a wonderful dog named Blue and, ultimately, confronted Jennifer’s health crisis. Jennifer had a thing for whales; Simon missed playing music.
The film contains its share of sweet touches and Huang and Yang, who costarred in Feng’s 2017 international hit “Youth,” make a credible pair. There are also many lovely shots of the New Zealand countryside. But frankly, you could turn a camera on most any average couple’s life and come up with something just as involving — or not.
Running time: 2 hours, 12 minutes
Playing: Starts Dec. 20 in limited release