The whimsical Chinese time-traveling rom-com “How Long Will I Love You?” imagines a rip in the space-time continuum right down the middle of a low-rent apartment shared by a man and a woman 19 years apart. After a night of strange occurrences at home, Lu (Jiayin Lei) and Xiao (Liya Tong) wake up in the same bed. When he opens the front door, it’s 1999, while she exits to 2018.
Both are down on their luck, financially strapped and looking for any way to get out of their situations. But every time they try to get close to their younger and future selves, the rip in time crumbles and compresses. The situation is out of their control, but as cohabitants and each other’s only allies, they start to fall for each other, until it jeopardizes Lu’s destiny. His wealthy future self starts to interfere to make sure all goes according to history.
This high-concept tale works because of the two leads’ charisma and chemistry. Tong is a star, and the role asks her to display her full range. Lei makes a great unlikely romantic hero.
Writer-director Lun Xu vacillates between highly stylized fluff and truly dark moments of melodrama and tragedy. Ultimately, the film is truly a story about the things you sacrifice in yourself for success. Will money fill the void? “How Long Will I Love You?” argues that it’s unlikely.
‘How Long Will I Love You?’
In Mandarin with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes
Playing: AMC Atlantic Times Square, Monterey Park; AMC Puente Hills 20,City of Industry; AMC Orange 30, Orange