In late 1989, angered by comments made by Liv Ullmann about Hong Kong's treatment of Vietnamese refugees, Rubie composes a letter to the actress. Passages from the letter are revealed ...
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In late 1989, angered by comments made by Liv Ullmann about Hong Kong's treatment of Vietnamese refugees, Rubie composes a letter to the actress. Passages from the letter are revealed throughout the movie as Rubie, her friends, and family come to terms with the impending handover to China, and decide whether to remain in Hong Kong or emigrate abroad.Written by
This is undoubtedly one of the most insightful movies being made about the Chinese paradox. Even though this movie was centered on the fight or flight situation Hong Kong residents faced back in 1992, the issues nevertheless remain relevant today.
So what were the issues then? It wasn't too long ago that USA retreated from South Vietnam ignominiously; creating a flood of refugees that Hong Kong had tried nobly to accommodate. Then Hong Kong, though secured as a British colony, was right at the doorstep as China convoluted through a Cultural Revolution and the TianAnMen suppression on June 04 1989. Come 1997, Hong Kong would be reverted back to Communist Chinese rule. These residents had to decide if they should remain; trusting the Communist assurance of 50 years without change. Or they should flee at the first opportune moment.
Director, Evans Chan, artfully laid out the various pros and cons through his players. And the cast, consisting of relative unknowns to the mainstream Hong Kong cinema, did a good job portraying the wide diversity of life in Hong Kong. Credit must be given to this director for his courage in taking the examination to a higher intellectual level by quoting sources that may be alien to a commercial audience. Surely he must be aware that reference to Baudelaire and van Gogh would only discourage box office taking. (In case you miss it, the title of this movie is a play on the name on the actress Liv Ullmann and the human existence.)
He tried to mesh the macro political considerations with the more intimate social needs. The complex parent-children relationship was very nicely accentuated by the mother; brilliantly played by the most recognised member of the cast, Ha Ping. The age difference in a love affair was suitably examined through the younger son with an older divorcée girlfriend. So where is home? A boat refugee must be wondering in his or her hostile transit camp. Whereas the well to do weighs up the cost vs benefit of each locale like a travel destination. Ironically, the movie showed an ex British missionary finding it Hong Kong at the expense of losing her faith as well as her husband.
While this film was made 20 years ago, these very issues have still remained. During this time Mainland China may have grown economically stronger by leaps and bound, but the dreary sense of insecurity with its institutions has not been dissipated; much less dispelled. Until then, this movie should still be watched by all ethnic Chinese. As a matter of reference, it should be watched by anyone considering migration.
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