The Soul of Bread

2012 [CHINESE]

Comedy / Romance

1
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 29%
IMDb Rating 6.2 10 490

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
April 16, 2022 at 01:57 PM

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720p.BLU
1017.05 MB
1280*544
chi 2.0
NR
24 fps
1 hr 50 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by moviexclusive 8 / 10

Sweet, funny, charming and utterly endearing rom-com with another winsome turn by 'Apple's' star Michelle Chen

Oh, Michelle! It's only been four months, but how we've missed you since you last captured our hearts with your utterly irresistible performance in 'You're the Apple of My Eye'. And so it is with little love lost that we eagerly anticipate your next romantic comedy, even though we couldn't quite comprehend how our breakfast staple could have a soul. But we'd like to tell you that you have taught us otherwise- that indeed it makes a difference when you put your heart into something, even something as nondescript as bread- and if there's one thing we'd like you to know, is that we adore you even more.

Sweet and lovable as ever, Michelle plays the small-town girl Ping who dreams of venturing outside the rural town she's ever known to see the world- and in particular, France. When we first meet Ping, she's being proposed to by her longtime boyfriend, Gaobing (Chen Han Dian), but she hesitates when she realises that he doesn't share the same ambitions she does. Quite obviously then, she quickly falls head over heels for the half-French half-Chinese celebrity baker Bread (Anthony Neely) when he pays a surprise visit to her village bakery.

Lost and disillusioned following the sudden death of his mother, Bread has dropped by their village in search of the recipe of his mother's favourite bread. To convince Ping's father Chiu Pa (Liao Chun) of his sincerity, Bread offers to become his apprentice- though it isn't long before his own French recipes win favour with the villagers. Yes, isn't it true that we often get enamoured with foreign novelties, just as the villagers fall in love with Bread's baguettes (which Chiu Pa, who has since moved on from village baker to village deejay, calls '巴给' )?

Not only then does resident baker Gaoping see his learnt bakes falling out of favour, he also finds his childhood sweetheart slipping slowly away from him and into the arms of Bread. And to make matters worse, it seems both his fates will be decided in a baking contest organised by the overzealous Chiu Pa and named after the goddess Mazu. It's no surprise however who will eventually win Ping's heart, but that doesn't mean the cross-country race to stop Ping before she leaves on a jetplane with Bread is any less exciting.

In fact, like much of the rest of the movie, it is surprisingly amusing and yet unexpectedly touching at the same time- and the climax no less than a winning conclusion that will leave a big wide smile on your face. Such delightful moments are fortunately aplenty throughout the movie, courtesy of the uniquely Taiwanese small-town humour that first-time feature directors Sean Kao and Lin Chun-Yang- expanding their 2006 TV movie of the same title- inject into the scenes.

Much of their humour derives from the distinctive supporting personalities, especially Ping's father Chiu Pa, whose unassuming manner coupled with his occasional tongue-in-cheek coarse remarks make for a hilarious and ultimately endearing combination. There's also the obvious language barriers between the English-speaking Bread and the Hoklo- speaking villagers to whom Ping, with her halting grasp of the English language, becomes the inevitable translator for- and the jokes certainly work better if you understand both languages. Besides the obvious, both directors bring some quirkly flair with the occasional outlandish sequence, including a song-and-dance number used to describe the out-of- this-world experience Gaobing gets when he tastes some exquisite seafood soup from a swanky high-class restaurant for the first time in his life.

Kao and Lin are however much more restrained when it comes to the love triangle among Ping, Bread and Gaobing. Consciously avoiding casting either guy in a good-bad polemic, the film strikes a graceful balance in portraying the tussle between Bread and Gaoping for Ping's heart- and you'll empathise with Ping as she agonises over choosing the unambitious but earnestly down-to-earth Gaoping or the debonair heartthrob Bread. A supporting budding romance between Ping's brother and a local policewoman serves as a nice juxtaposition against Ping's otherwise complicated matters of the heart.

Much as we may wish to be Han Dian or Neely, there's little doubt that both nail their respective roles perfectly. No stranger to playing the unsophisticated type with a heart of gold, Han Dian (who also starred in 'Monga') excels in a nuanced performance that conveys subtly his character's feelings of inferiority and insecurity. Next to Han Dian, the Taiwanese American actor Neely may seem to have it much easier by simply putting on a disarming smile all the time, but there's arguably little more that his role calls for.

And then of course there is Michelle, whose appearance front and centre on the poster is proof enough that she is no less than the biggest selling point of the movie. Aside from her meteoric ascent to popularity following last year's 'Apple', the actress with her adorable girl-next- door charm once again is the reason this love story is funny, charming, poignant and winning all at the same time. If indeed there is a soul to be found in bread, she is the very soul of this movie, and it is a thoroughly appealing turn that cements her reputation as one of the foremost actresses of the new-age Taiwanese rom-coms.

Yet of course, Michelle is not the only thing to wax lyrical about this breezy light-hearted movie, which to its credit, is infused with a strong Taiwanese local flavour you'll find most engaging. It makes a point about preserving the local identity, especially in the face of distant novelties- and though its message isn't new, it makes such a disarmly convincing case for it that you can't quite help but be won over.

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Reviewed by DICK STEEL 6 / 10

A Nutshell Review: The Soul of Bread

Set in a small Taiwanese town, the film centers around a family run bread bakery shop, where lead baker Gao Bing (Chen Han Tien) proposes to his long time girlfriend Ping (Michelle Chen), the daughter of his mentor, only for her to turn him down for his lack of couth and sincerity in proposing to her. Being given some time to mull over the proposal, things become complicated when Frenchman and renowned bread maker Brad (Anthony Neely) comes knocking at their door when he skips his fame and fortune to the exasperation of his fans in the Western baking world, retracing the steps that his late mom had taken, and becoming instantly smitten with Ping, and volunteers to learn some bakery skills after Ping's father (Liao Chun), who obliges for the gift of an expensive saxophone that he can use to show off amongst his band peers in the community club.

That's about the gist of the story, leading into a tussling romantic triangle between Ping, Gao Bing and Brad, with the choice firmly in the lady's hands. Directors Sean Kao and Lin Chun Yang adapts from their television series of the same name, and took their time to set up the multiple backgrounds for each of the main characters. With Ping, she yearns to go to Paris and is adamant in learning French for this purpose. She's the quintessential small town girl yearning for the bright lights of the big city, and Brad's presence only serves to stoke that flame of flight in her. As for Gao Bing, he's the small town boy with immense responsibilities that he's not about to give up on, and while he loves his lady, he finds it extremely tough to express that love explicitly and romantically, preferring to hide behind his gruff exterior. And Brad's the complete opposite, never fearing to reveal his emotions, and takes the town by storm with his good looks and baking skills, which reinvigorates the sleepy town. He's a little bit more complex, having come across with a mission to seek his maternal roots, before slowly allowing his true self to emerge, which may irk some fans because it's quite the about turn in character.

As always, comedy ensues each time someone goes overboard in expressing themselves, while Ping's father and brother almost stole the show with their extremely down to earth portrayal of simple folk with simple pleasures in life. The filmmakers went for the jugular to expand the storyline beyond the romantic triangle, such as introducing another budding romance potential between Ping's brother and the neighbourhood policewoman, that didn't get flesh out thoroughly, and another wasted opportunity was the hilarious dream sequences that Gao Bing will lapse into each time he tastes something that provides an inspiration, leading to ensemble song and dance moments that were top notch in choreography and slapstick. Even the rivalry in having a cook-off between the two bakers to the tune of Le Grand Chef was not as epic as meant to be, with moments in the film dedicated to delicious close ups of dough creations that boggle the mind and plays tricks on one's tastebuds and stomach,

Michelle Chen does what she does best, being that girl next door with that wholesome heart and image that any guy out there would want to pursue and bring home to meet mom. She plays the confused, hesitant Ping to perfection, with that amount of saccharine sweetness bound to melt more hearts than her turn in Giddens' film. But such is the role that it doesn't challenge her nor showcase expanded abilities, so here's waiting to see what her next project will be, if she would break away from a comfort zone and take on a role that's more challenging. Chen Han Tien doesn't have that movie matinée star looks, but possesses this earnestness in his charisma that simply allowed one to empathize how he's slowly losing grip on his life due to competition, where once he was the town's hero, and that status under threat, while Anthony Neely plays his Brad with the overt confidence that comes with the role of an internationally renowned baker, but prone to emotional outbursts later on especially when riled by Gao Bing, together with a revelation of true intent that tied in with his seeking out the bread that his mom had once fallen in favour with.

Despite plot loopholes abound especially with the liberal massaging of timeline, perhaps the worst thing that had happened to the film in Singapore, is the unfortunate, and badly done, Mandarin dubbing over the Taiwanese Hokkien lines especially spoken by Gao Bing and his mentor/Ping's father. It's one thing when an obvious dub is used over an entire line, and another issue altogether which points to disrespect and an insult to a paying audience when such poor dubs make it as and when it's preferred, often mid sentence, to try and mask out vulgarities, or to reduce the duration of non-Mandarin moments in the movie. It's an irrational, archaic guideline that has no place in art appreciation, nor appreciation in the way real people in the real world speak, so I say the sooner we learn to grow up and stop this nonsense, the better. You don't ask a friend from Taiwan to speak strictly Mandarin at all times when in Singapore, or to stick within a time quota, do you?

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