Dir: Aubrey Lam. HK. 2000. 100 mins.

Prod cos: Golden Harvest Film Productions, Golden Harvest Pictures China Ltd. Int sales: Golden Harvest (+852 2352 8222). Exec prod: Stephen Chu. Scr: Aubrey Lam. DoP: Deng Cheng Siu Keung. Cast: Cecilia Cheung, Eason Chan, Stephen Fung, Candy Lo, Cheung Sum Yuet.

Twelve Nights is precisely the kind of film needed to show the world outside Asia that the lean years of the late 1990s have left the Hong Kong film industry fitter and more up to date. A locally-rooted Hong Kong romance, Twelve Nights has enough charm and modernity to give it solid chances on the international festival circuit and sufficient universality to provide it reasonable broadcast pretensions. Premiering this week, prospects in its local Hong Kong are also strong.

The film follows the ups and downs in the relationship of a pair of urban, early twenty-somethings and is told on selected 12 evenings over a period of several months. The chief sub-plots are, first, an examination of fate that determines the chance unravelling of the couple's previous liaisons on the same day to the events that inevitably drag them apart and, second, the question of who is deluding whom.

Unevenly paced, but spiked with splashes of humour and visual appeal the film's greatest strength is the excellent performance of newcomer Cecilia Cheung, as the young woman who all too desperately wants to be in love. Cheung also recently won the Hong Kong Film Award for best newcomer in her debut film Fly Me To Polaris.