Before We Vanish by Sean Gilman Film

This Is Not What I Expected | Derek Hui

May 5, 2017

Recalling the softer screwballs of the 1930s—or, more specifically, modern imitations of those classics—This Is Not What I Expected is essentially You’ve Got Mail—except with the two leads communicating not via email, but through food. Takeshi Kaneshiro plays fastidious foodie Lu Jin, a buyer and seller of hotels who checks into a Shanghai inn and finds all of the food lacking, with only one exception: a magical soup made by Gu Sheng-nan (Soul Mate star Zhou Dongyu). Lu Jin refuses to meet Gu Sheng-nan, so instead the two are left to bond through their respective preparation and consumption of elaborate meals. But when Lu Jin extends his stay, he and Gu Shang-nan repeatedly clash with each other, in a series of semi-slapstick sequences. (Highlight: Gu Shang-nan drunkenly falls from a roof and germaphobe Lu Jin stuffs her into a suitcase.) Eventually the two unmask each other, and Lu Jin practically moves into Gu Shang’s apartment—in an attempt to figure out what’s so appealing about her food. Naturally, they fall in love, which happens during an incident when the two accidentally eat some hallucinogenic blowfish. This Is Not What I Expected is Derek Hui’s directorial debut, but it’s full of crisp, bright images that put televised food porn to shame with their sense for color, texture, and the sounds of cooking.

Published as part of New York Asian Film Festival | Dispatch 2.