Sausalito: ”Waiting for a woman who had a one night stand with you. Tell her to take it easy. What a caring man!”

Year: 2000
Directed by Andrew Lau and Second Chan
Produced by Wong Jing
Written by Sap Sam Chan
Cast: Maggie Cheung, Leon Lai, Eric Kot, Richard Ng, Suki Kwan, Valerie Chow, and Carl Ng

A cab driver that’s a single mother has a one night stand with an upstart businessman that leads to a relationship that could change their lives for the better.

If it wasn’t for the A-list stars of Leon Lai and Maggie Cheung, Sausalito doesn’t sound too different from a mopey picture that you find on the Hallmark Channel. The plot while executed well for the most part still leaves you wanting more. That semi-uninspired plot does not get in the way of some elegant cinematography that’s a brilliant showcase of the San Franciscan locale. The cinematography is so great that it would probably please anyone on the San Francisco tourism board. Cinema has always been fond of ”The Golden City” and Sausalito glows with that fondness.

Sausalito just strides along like any romance involving any Gen Xers which brings up issues like a fear of commitment or insecurities of being a single mother. Sausalito tends to fall back on the natural chemistry of its two leads than anything of substantial written within the script. Which has mixed results as the plot jumps back and forth between being captivating and dull since Mike’s corporate doings as a source of conflict isn’t the most enthralling. More internal conflicts would have strengthen the plot in my eyes. A bit of charm does arise from Mike’s project called ”Nirvana” that is described as a digital ”nation-state” of the internet. The whole concept although a bit hammy does anticipate the growth of social media that would take place and this was even before MySpace even existed. Sausalito suffers from pacing issues even by the standards of similar films. The supporting cast deserves praise for Richard Ng’s portrayal of a landlord that’s Mike’s mentor who happens to be gay. Eric Kot isn’t the type of an actor that you would really want to include in a melodrama but Eric’s acting is kept more restrained.

Even calling Sausalito subpar compared to the likes of Comrades: Almost a Love Story might be too generous. Sausalito as a melodrama is effective but it doesn’t feel like it comes close to its actual potential. The naturalistic style of the romance is touching and poignant but much of the conflict in the way of the lovers lacks serious substance and the pacing is quite spotty in too many places.

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