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Tour de Force

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Plot Overview

The opening imagery of “Ming tian ni de ai shang wo[?]” (English: “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”) displays a miracle borrowed from the biblical story of Elijah, a prophet mighty in word and deed. His acolyte Elisha being aware that God was going to take him up asked to inherit (a double portion of) his spirit. Elijah replied that it was a hard request, but if he saw the prophet ascend, it would be granted. Elisha did witness Elijah's ascent and inherited the older prophet's mantle. Elisha then took over working signs and what­not, (2 Kings 2:15) “And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha.”

In “Will You?” a regular-looking bloke Weichung (Richie Ren) goes to work in the morning opening an eye­ware shop for business as usual (“Ni mang ma?”) when his boss Chang calls him in to announce his retirement and promote him on the spot (“You're promoted, Mgr Weichung.”) Chang then steps out­side where Weichung witnesses him ascend to heaven, and then the movie title displays now that we consumers of cellu­loid have been primed for the story.

Sure enough, in the days following we see Weichung punctilious in his attention to a new customer (“Wo jiao Thomas”), now that he's the manager (i.e., “The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha.”) Oops, we forgot one detail. Chang was supposed to have dropped his umbrella for the new manager when he left, and that didn't happen. Instead, what happens is Weichung witnesses a homo­sexual liaison in a men's room stall at an engagement party for his sister Mandy [pronounced Mindy] (Kimi Hsia). He recognizes one of the men, “Stephen!” who's the photog­rapher taking his sister's pix (“Mandy shi ni mei mei.”) Stephen is an old flame (of whom “I heard you got married”) he catches up with (“Yes, to a lesbian … three years.”) Weichung is married, too, and has been out of circu­lation (“Married all these years, you've never had fun on the side.”) Stephen assures him, “Don't worry, we won't blow your cover.” The “cover,” i.e. the mantle, is now his marriage, and he has (re-)captured the homo­sexual spirit from Stephen (Lawrence Ko) (i.e., “The spirit of [Stephen] doth rest on [Weichung].”), and his attention to Thomas at the eye shop is a prelude to “having fun on the side” with him. This is going to play out in the plot, but if we've paid attention to the symbols, we've a leg up on it.

Meanwhile, Weichung's wife Feng (Mavis Fan) begins her day at a pharma­ceutical company where she works. She exchanges good mornings (“Zao”) with her team leader who observes, “In a little bit it won't be morning any more.” Oops. He adds, this is the “fifth time you've been late this month,” but then tells her not to worry about it (“Mei wenti”) but try to be on time from now on.

Rumor has it there's going to be a merger. The girls specu­late it will lead to “down­sizing,” starting from the top. As William H. Love­joy expressed it once in dialogue: (55)

“The president and myself are out on our respective asses on October fifteenth, if we don't have a contract.”
     “There will be some trickle-down?” Kerry asked.
     “Damned right. I fire you before I clean out my desk.”
     “I better get back to work then.”

Feng had better start arriving on time.

On the VDT in the cubicle behind hers can be read a heading:  Prep Potential Drug Interference. She's got her own personal potential sub­stance inter­ference potential: her bio­logical clock says it's time to have a second baby, her husband has a new “friend” (“Pengyou a?”), there's going to be a shakeup at her com­pany, and her punctu­ality is in the pits.


“Will You” has rather lackluster first shots of: a deserted town at night, morning ablutions (“Weichung? I have to pee”), and a boring commuter train ride. It sets a mood such as found in, (Eccl. 1:14) “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” The scripture elaborates, (Eccl. 1:15) “That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting can­not be numbered.” The movie follows the same lines. Weichung “used to be gay,” then “after we married I stopped being gay” becoming straight (“We do it about once a week”), but not after meeting Thomas (“this … first time in a long time I've felt some­thing.”) Mandy in the super­market is confronted with consumer choices that seem to her will number on and on through endless days once she becomes married (“Is living a hum­drum life of a house­wife the kind of happi­ness that I am looking for?”)

One remedy a man has is to, (Eccl. 9:9) “Live joy­fully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.” The philosophical point discussed and stressed in this film is that couples marry with the hope of living their lives joy­fully. We want to be happily married, the ideal being to have a gay marriage as expressed in the joyful wed­ding photo (“You look so happy”), what the Chinese call “gāoxìng.”

Let's sort out our vocabulary. Thomas was played by Hong Kong actor Wong Ka-lok. Hong Kong having been a British dependency, they speak English there and his Mandarin Chinese is not the best (“Wo de putong hua bu hao.”) “Known as Mandarin by nonChinese, Chinese prefer to call it putong hua, common language” (Love­joy 50). Watching the sub­titles you may note a couple words that use common English spelling rather than Chinese characters: gay and OK.

Gay comes from the French gai meaning happy, colorful, or drunk (as in tipsy.) There is a scene where Feng drinks her­self silly, i.e., gai, after the second shoe drops. In English we don't say "gay" for drunk, but gay can mean licentious, as in the expression we use, “That's so gay!” In the movie “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” Bob and Carol have a licentious marriage that offends Alice who looks for her marriage to be reflected in theirs. We'd call it an open marriage rather than a gay (i.e., licentious) one, because as noted above, a gay (i.e., joyful) marriage is what all couples strive for, and we don't want to confuse and offend Alice. Petitioners in my state (Oregon) promoting same-sex marriage take care not to call it gay marriage so they don't offend people (whose signatures they need.) News­papers that are just out to sell papers are not so careful about what they say.

In the movie “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry,” two straights who have been running a domestic partner­ship benefit scam are forced to go to Canada to enter a same-sex marriage to keep the benefits inspector fooled. We would not call their same-sex marriage a homo­sexual one, because neither is a homo.

In “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” homo­sexual Stephen is in a homosexual marriage with: “My wife is lesbian. We're into role reversal.” In the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”–2011, a gay man in India marries a straight woman at his family's behest. Their marriage seems to have worked out well, because all their cards were on the table, his wife knew what she was getting into. In “Will You,” how­ever, Weichung had kept his sexual orientation a secret from his wife, and from his family, so they hadn't a clue. Had he told them, we suppose his sister would not have gone to a gay wedding photographer so as not to expose her brother to temptation.

In the east, we see, that homosexuality is catching, one may become homo­sexual through out­side influence. It also can be educated out of children; Weichung observing his six-year-old son's leaning characters tells him, “You have to write it straight.” Here in the west, though, people are born gay when they have the gay gene, and there's nothing to be done about it. In “Will You” Thomas is an air­line steward flying to and staying in many countries around the globe. In the east, he developed his sexual orientation through out­side influence like the gay bar scene; when he's in the west, he was born gay; when he's in Africa (where homo­sexuality is illegal), he's straight as a pin; and when he's with Weichung who lacks recent gay experience, Thomas is inexperienced, too. This guy is nothing if not flexible.

Feng's mom takes her to see Mrs. Lan the fortune teller (“She's a fraud”) who tells her, “You're very uncentered,” and concerning her husband, “The fire is a little weak.” Yes, if a woman wants to have another baby and her husband goes gay, I suppose she would be uncentered, and her love life wouldn't be very passionate, either. There is a no-smoking icon at the eye shop, but that's where the husband's fire is, not in the marriage bed where it's supposed to be.

My movie ticket says No cameras or recording devices. I was permitted to enter the theater, though, with my floppy disk drive, because although it is a recording device, there was no power to it, it can't record with­out that spark. Like­wise, it really didn't matter that Weichung used to be gay so long as he's not getting any more power to that passion. How­ever, were I to sit next to some­one with a lap­top and connect my device to his, the merger would provide power and input enabling me to record, which would be for­bid­den. It's that connection to his old flame that drove Weichung into for­bidden territory.

Production Values

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” (2013) was written and directed by Arvin Chen. It stars Richie Ren, Mavis Fan, Kimi Hsia, and Lawrence Ko. The acting was sub­lime building up slowly but surely to some kind of climax. Mavis Fan is a pop singer in her own right, and when she sang the title song, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? it liked to move me to tears, so heart­felt was it, as if I had never heard it before for all the emotion she put into it.

This movie was more drama than comedy, the latter being fleeting at times, the former under­lying. I had to rely mostly on the English sub­titles, but the Mandarin Chinese was often easy to follow even for some­one very out of practice.

Review Conclusion w/ Consumer Recommendation

The Chinese really know how to put their all into their movies, and this one is no exception. The main problem a westerner might have is reorienting his thinking. In the west the focus is on an individual's liberty to be him­self, in the east it's to not be disruptive to society, to his family. It's possible to force it into the wrong mold. Taken as it is, though, it's great in every sense. I highly recommend it.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes.

Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years.

Special effects: Well done special effects.

Video Occasion: Good Date Movie if you're serious.

Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Lovejoy, William H. China Dome. New York: Pinnacle Books, 1995. Print.