In Defense of Miriam Yeung—Love Undercover II

Since Feel 100% II, Dummy Mummy, Without a Baby, and Lover Undercover, uncontrollable laughter has become Miriam Yeung’s trademark. Then a series of typical commercial productions like Dry Wood Fierce Fire, Frugal Game and My Lucky Star further set her on a course of no return, her touching performance with Paul Chun in the TV series Father of the Bride was quite forgotten. The films may be different, but her character is invariable the girl-next-door who harbours no ambition and is quite content with her lot. The plot, too, is not marked by dramatic twists and turns but her laughter; then it is over. The girl-next-door may turn into a fairy-tale princess and get her Prince Charming at the end, but she is still an ordinary girl. This is the Miriam Yeung (female) audience like to see: a happy-go-lucky OL (office lady).

In acting theories there is the so-called actor-author, which means some actors can enrich the role by incorporating in their personal experience and character. I am not saying that Miriam Yeung is an actor-author, but her impulsive behaviour, which blurs the fine line between improvisations and bloopers, is sometimes so tolerated that the scene becomes her personal act where she laughs and screams at will. You cannot say that this is not an incorporation of personal character or even "creation" into the role. Let's not forget that she used to be a nurse, we cannot discard the possibility that she tries to incorporate this Nightingale role into her character. Then again, it may only be the director's deliberate exaggeration of her naiveté. If so, then she is, in a sense, an actor-author.

If is hard to tell whether her odd-ball behaviour is in the script or is just a blooper. This blurring of being genuine and phony has a post-modern ring to it, not unlike the performance of Gillian and Charlene of the Twins in their films. The audience really cannot tell it is acting or their true self on and off screen, they just feel that they are "unpretending". In fact, "the true self" has been so taken for granted that few will take an actor to task for being his true self on the screen. Perhaps, what we can say is that the demand of the audience has changed; now they just want to see the "true self". If they are given a good time, so what if the "true self" turns out to be just good acting, and why should we bother to know.

By Chan Ka Ming

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