JUNE 18, 2010 Ali Quaile
Kit Hui’s first feature-length film is a haunting exploration of one man’s confrontation with the devastating effects of amnesia. Convincingly acted by Terence Yin who plays the lead character Wei, the audience are faced with the anguish and confusion of a quest into the inexorable.
The cause of Wei’s amnesia is never mentioned but this becomes unimportant as instead it creates an emphasis on his character and internal struggle. His search for personal identity with no notion of the context of social norms leaves him struggling against a constant battle of dejection and alienation.
Set against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s handover from British rule to the sovereignty of China, although not explicit, a metaphor can be seen where new identity pushes out the old and the possibility of a clean slate is born. We are only hinted at the antecedent to Wei’s life but as mentioned by his friend Andy (Phat Chan) “It’s better that you don’t remember some things”.
Being the UK premiere there was a fascinating Q&A with director Kit Hui who was able to illuminate various aspects of the film that appeared ambiguous and explain her motives behind various decisions she made in the film making process such as the accentuation on the background noises which are distinct and unique to the various settings of the piece and draws you in, this combined with beautiful music from the Icelandic band Amiina created an incredibly powerful atmosphere.
The film is however slow to get going and requires a certain amount of patience and perseverance but then this is arguably necessary in order for the viewer to become fully empathetic towards Wei. Also it seems to end at quite an unexpected point leaving things unresolved which would be fine although it never appears to be justified. It cannot be denied though that this is a compelling piece of cinema that proves that you do not need a Hollywood sized budget to create a work of art.