I actually saw 77 Heartbreaks last year but I wasn’t able to do a review until I saw it again recently on Netflix. This romantic drama film directed by Herman Yau is definitely not your typical love story. Rather, it focuses on the gradual collapse of a relationship and puts under a microscope the reasons why sometimes, love grows bitter with age.
Synopsis: After 10 years together, Eva (Charlene Choi) finally decides to break up with her boyfriend Adam (Pakho Chau). Angry at her decision, Adam finds comfort in the arms of his junior Mandy (Michelle Wai). Mandy accidentally finds a notebook left behind by Eva wherein she details the 77 heartbreaks that she has forgiven Adam for before she gave up on him.
77 Heartbreaks is most definitely a bittersweet journey that tackles the 77 entries in Eva’s diary and details the common reasons why long time couples break up. While the entries are mostly common things like being late for a date or being a no show, being callous about the other party’s family, having no drive or ambition, being stubborn — they resonate with the audience who sometimes fall prey to the same complacency when they have been part of the same relationship for too long. This also provides a contrast to the images shown by Adam about the beginning of the relationship when they both cared about making each other happy, something that couples can also identify with.
Audiences sympathize for Eva, who bent over backwards to accommodate and support Adam. They feel each of her heartbreaks like a knife to the chest. In the same vein, the film provides a look at Adam’s point of realization of his love and shortcomings and his genuine desire to get back together with Eva when he has already lost her.
I liked how director Herman Yau laid out the plot and systematically went through the events of Adam and Eva’s failed relationship. Charlene Choi delivered a subtle but effective portrayal of a woman scorned one too many times and Pakho Chau pulled his weight in bringing to life a self centered boyfriend who takes his partner for granted. As he starts to realize what he lost, audiences give him points for the grand romantic gesture but still have reservations as to whether he could be trusted.
Personally, I would have liked for the film to provide more perspectives from the point of view of Adam to give audiences a better understanding of his mental and emotional state. While his family issues were briefly discussed, it seemed like the film poinpointed his stubbornness as the bigger issue for his relationship conflicts.
All in all, 77 Heartbreaks will indeed break audience’s hearts multiple times over the course of the movie. At the same time, it is inspiring for partners to recognize the value of give and take in any relationship and understanding their limits before they lose themself to the idea of love. The film is ultimately about experiencing pain, liberation, respect, loving oneself and moving forward. And its not a bad lesson to learn.