Hong Kong/China, 2008, 100 minutes
Sun, May 3 / 8:30 / Kabuki / CLAU03K
Tue, May 5 / 8:45 / Kabuki / CLAU05K
Thu, May 7 / 3:15 / Kabuki / CLAU07K
A sensitive and deceptively serene portrayal of an office relationship marks this intelligently crafted feature debut by one of Hong Kong’s best known screenwriters, Ivy Ho (Comrades, Almost a Love, SFIFF 1997; Story; July Rhapsody, SFIFF 2002). Five office colleagues share the daily drive home after work. Each represents a facet of the career cycle: youngish boss Tom (Ekin Cheng) at the wheel, time-serving veteran Karl, nerdy executive trainee John, sexy assistant Jewel and recent hire Pearl (Karena Lam). They gossip and bicker, and John gets angry at Jewel (with whom he has had a one-night stand), as the narrative centers on Pearl. Her calm and quiet demeanor masks a simmering mutual attraction for Tom that may or may not have been consummated. Much to her dismay, Tom retreats into the pragmatism of family and career concerns as excuses to end their relationship. The film then moves back in time to trace the evolution and origin of the relationships between all five characters. Somewhat like Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love, Ho teases us with did-they-or-didn’t-they questions and the suspicion that it may not really matter in the end. Ho’s expert dialogue is a model of deflected intentions and emotions, a web of subtexts that captures the passions raging under the formal structures and “claustrophobia” of the daily grind. An intriguing effect of the film’s retrospective conceit is that, as the narrative progresses, the characters are happier and more open, their melancholia giving way to new hopes and new beginnings.
Presented in association with the Center for Asian American Media. New Directors Prize Contender. North American Premiere.