Lilting (15)

Directed by Hong Khaou
Picturehouse, Liverpool
From 8th August 2014

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a low budget but generally high quality movie about relationships and communication or rather the lack of it.

A better title for the film would have been Lost In Translation but that has been used before.

Junn (Cheng Pei-Pei) is an elderly Cambodian-Chinese who had been placed in a care home by her son Kai (Andrew Leung), who has since died. Following this tragedy his lover Richard (Ben Whishaw) wants to establish a friendship with Junn, as a means to continue his connection with his deceased partner. She had previously had little regard for him and did not realise that her son was gay.

A big obstacle in achieving this was her inability to speak any coherent English and his inability to speak any of the six languages she can speak! To overcome this problem Richard hires a translator Vann (Naomi Christie).

But the constant use of Vann translating Junn's responses to Richard's questions becomes a bit tiresome. Director Hong Khaou sometimes overcomes this annoying trait by using subtitles.

Junn is the star performer (she played the villain in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), not with her verbal utterances but with her facial expressions and eye contact. She is not someone to mess around with.

Arresting camerawork is created by cinematographer Ula Pontikos, particularly the skilled use of time frames, with flashbacks of Kai's relationship with Richard. Also noteworthy are her shots of blank skies and windswept trees, symbolising the emptiness inherent in Junn and Richard's lives.

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