Rest on Your Shoulder (2011)


rest shoulder poster

Rest on Your Shoulder

Director: Chi Leung Cheung

Starring: Kun Chen, Gigi Leung, Yiyan Jiang, and Lunmei Kwai


Rest on Your Shoulder tells the story of Guo (Kun Chen), a plant and ecosystem scientist completing work on a small island. With him is his fiancé Bao (Yiyan Jiang), a woman who takes care of the day to day tasks so that Guo can focus on his work. As the wedding day approaches, Guo is stricken with a serious allergic reaction and the prognosis is not good. Bao, desperate to save him, makes a deal with a spirit; that in exchange for saving his life, she will give up her humanity to become a white butterfly for a time. She uses this new life to watch over Guo and is witness to the life Guo has without her in it.

Upon waking Guo is devastated by her disappearance but is helped to cope by Bai (Lunmei Kwai), a student who harbors an unrequited love for Guo, and later by Yang (Gigi Leung), a reporter who is writing about Guo’s breakthroughs in his field, but finds herself drawn to his seriousness and love of nature. As the time of her transformation nears its end, will she still have a place in Guo’s heart or will she have lost him to one of the girls who have helped him get over his depression?

Kun Chen does a good job as the tortured but still hard working Guo, the passage of time depicted in the film shows good progression and a pretty natural reaction to events and the loss of a loved one. Gigi Leung and Lunmei Kwai are the tragic characters of the film, with their attraction and desire to honor the memory of Guo’s lost love. The weakest part of the film is most definitely in the insect scenes featuring the voice of Yiyan Jiang. These segments break with the generally serious nature of the film and seem to be included simply as an instance of padding runtime and broadening the audience to children. The visual look of these scenes is not in question, just the actual content.

The film has a very high production value, with numerous visual effects used to indicate the passage of time and the insect world Bao inhabits in the second act. The music, composed by the incomparable Joe Hisaishi, has a charming and peaceful tone with appropriate swells and moments of atmosphere that keep the film in a balance with its ‘real versus super-real’ fantasy. Shot in Japan, the forests and waterfalls are a great site to see and fans of nature will appreciate the work of Ardy Lam, veteran of many classic 90’s era HK action films.

In the end, Rest on Your Shoulder is a generally satisfying film. It’s simple to follow story, romantic angst, and cute animation struck me that this would make a very good date film. It unfortunately suffers as a film because it tries to be too many things at once; fantasy, romantic drama, children’s film, and special effects show reel. Not a bad film by any stretch, Rest on Your Shoulder left me feeling satisfied with my viewing but I’m unsure if I’ll choose to revisit it again anytime soon.

You may enjoy this film if you liked: Mushishi, Fly Me to Polaris, Tiramisu

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Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP!

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