Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

To: You, From: Me (Book of Love – Movie Review)



Book + Letter = Love






Can someone really fall in love through letters without even meeting the other person you are exchanging messages with personally?

This is the question that bothered me ever since. I heard a lot of stories of couples who started their relationship through sweet words written in a piece of paper. And these days, now that we live in a digital world, some started off with a text message or an email. It is weird for me to believe how on earth these people fall in love with someone without seeing his/her in the flesh. I ask… What if he/she is not as what you expect him/she would be? What if that person has a criminal record? Or what if he/she is ugly? Do these people ever wonder what kind of person is behind those words they fell into? Well, no one can ever tell. Words can be mixed to make it flowery and deceive people. You might not know it because it may appear sweet and delicious, but is actually deadly like a poison berry once you take it.



Movie Poster

The Chinese movie “Book of Love” tells the story on how a relationship between a casino hostess from Macau and a real estate broker in Los Angeles sparked through exchanging of letters because of the book 86, Charing Cross Road written by an American novelist Helene Hanff, which the movie is also inspired. It all started by mailing their own copies of the book to the address (which is also the title of the book) and surprisingly receiving it back with a letter inside. Then the story revolved on how they started hating each other, having a teacher-to-student-like relationship, friends and unconsciously falling for each other.


Now you know where I was getting all these questions, eh?

Cute. Witty. Dramatic. Romantic. These words best describe the whole plot of the story. It will give you that sort of “Oh no!” expression in every conflict that happens inside the movie. And that “awww” feeling when something good happens. The movie is filled with a very dark, yet sunny feel to it every time the story of the female protagonist, Jiao, is being told. And vice versa when the character of Daniel, the male protagonist, was presented. Jiao embodies the meaning of a person who gambles in life and love. Being indebted her whole life and not being loved equally by the men she fell in love is what makes her character the unluckiest of all. But, this girl is strong and steady as a tree during a typhoon. On the other hand, Daniel is the guy who is living the dream and has a wealthy life. But everything seems empty for him until he met the old couple from one of the houses he is selling and exchanged letters with Jiao whom all changed his whole perspective in life.

Honestly, the story was good but kind of predictable and plain in my opinion. Maybe adding a generous amount of seasoning to it will make the movie perfect. The only times that made me hold onto the story is from the first half and the times when the old couple appear. These moments are like waves of the ocean, strong and powerful. (Note: The story of make you believe that ‘forever’ does really exist.) By the time it reached the other half, it became just a ripple. But hold on so tightly and wait till the last moments of the movie because it is when bigger waves splash. Would they finally meet at the end? Well, it’s for you to know. Watch it.



In terms of cinematography and editing, I cannot say much about it because it is not an action or fantasy movie where you will (un)conciously criticize on how great the camera angling is or whether the editing using CGI or Computer Generated Imagery sucks. The main focus of the movie is for the audience to feel every bit of emotion that the writer and the director wants to relay. And I think they successfully delivered it with “Book of Love”.

Talking about the actors, I would give them a round of applause for giving the right emotions to every scene whether they need to cry, feel lonely, angry or in love. I would like to commend the actors who played as the old couple. They gave such a deep illustration of a married life throughout the years and made us feel it is real, though the story is fiction. And of course, the main actors who gave their best interpretation of their characters, a

Director Xue Xiaolu (center), actor Paul Shun and actress Wu Yanshu

miserable but strong woman and a positive but empty guy. What made me say that these actors were incredible is through the way they act with their eyes. The eyes are the window through your soul, as they say. And through eyes, you can see one’s true emotions. Well, these actors acted using the power of their eyes. As an audience, you can see that pure emotions are being delivered through the screen. They gave me this chilly but in a good way feeling when the camera focuses on their faces and *snap* the emotion from the eyes just hits you right down to your heart.




The movie also teaches a lot of valuable lessons not just in love, but also in life. It conveys very deep scenarios where I’m sure anyone can relate to.




Going back to the question I had in the beginning… can you really fall in love with someone you are exchanging letters with even you have not seen him/her in person? Let’s think of it.

Well, I guess it can be quite possible for some. I mean, take it from the story of Helene Hanff and Frank Doel. The two created such beautiful friendship through exchanging letters even they have not yet met personally. And this is Hanff’s inspiration in writing her critically acclaimed novel, 86, Charing Cross Road (which I personally want to read.) For twenty years, they write in a piece of paper about their lives and mail it to each other even they were millions of miles apart. So if they became friends through letters, maybe the possibility of falling in love with someone through letters is the same.


“Book of Love” is a movie that will break the audience’s hearts upon watching. The combination of a good storyline and powerful casts made this romantic-comedy movie a hit. Surely, hopeless romantic people would definitely fall in love with this film. And of course, to those who have already found the right person for them. I hope this would inspire the viewers to find love.

Wait until your ‘letter’ comes.


From:  Jan Von Roi M. Sarmiento (BABRC 4-2)

Photo source:


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