SYNOPSIS: "Journalist Sara has just spent four months completing an in-depth investigation piece. Her editor-in-chief, afraid of offending powerful politicians and business moguls, refuses to run it. Sara’s boyfriend, who works for the same magazine, chooses not to warn her and even sides with the editor-in-chief. In just one moment, Sara is turned off by her work, her love relationship, and even about life.
At this low point in her life, Sara exiles herself to Chiang Mai, Thailand. One evening, while at a bar, Sara meets child prostitute Dok-my. During her time getting to know Dok-my and through the process of rescuing her, Sara becomes haunted by the memories of her own past..." (www.emp.hk)
PLOT: "After being sexually abused as a child by her stepfather, Sara (Choi) runs away from home, earn her own keep and spends her nights in various locales, including country parks and fast food joints that stay open 24 hours. While hanging around the Tsim Sha Tsui East promenade late one evening, she meets the gentlemanly, middle-aged Kam Ho-yin (Simon Yam Tat-wah). The two embark on a complex relationship that involves him getting her into a good school and a new life she choose to take." (Wiki)
(Above image: Sara is removing his belt buckle to give him a blowjob in the car, and unfortunately this image is what pops up the most when you google for the film…)
Digested as a "social drama", there are many points left wanting ... but viewed as a "social commentary drama", it suits the basic information that had left me piqued, but at the same time not to have felt being force-fed platitudes of social injustice … although Sara's obvious jaunt into the sex trade in Chiang Mai was a failed attempt at addressing something that deserved more than a cursory script-advancement, IMHO.
But I am not interested in "what could haves", but rather like to focus on what this film did for me, personally, and as such, it entertained me with their "slice of life" in Hong Kong, dealing with adult themes and life-choices, with no nonsense "real world" sensibilities most times, which appeals to my non-too intense need for cerebral celluloid beyond non-fictional documentaries,
"Sara" features no gangsters, no triads, no cops-n-robbers, no exorcists and haunted houses - and the result is a refreshingly "honest"-feeling film, with even the hysteria somehow seemed "honest" too LOL
My command of the Cantonese language is slim at best, with most times *understanding (*I use that term very liberally) the basic emotions, but this film needs to be heard and watched without dubbing, or I am afraid things might be lost in emotive-translation, IMHO. But of course you need subtitles, at least :p
Scene with Simon and Charlene, and Interviews with Charlene,
alas with no subtitles.
Acting from both the leads, Charlene Choi and the ever impeccable Simon Yam, was exceptional, while everybody else seems to be wholly forgettable, but no doubt performed their perfunctionary best, I am sure.
This film was infamous for the actress Choi's (One-half of Hong Kong girl-pop group "Twins") portrayal of the character - in all of her daring sexuality and partial nudity - as re[ported and sensationalized by media - which I'd felt eclipsed her acting here, methinks.
The visuals and imagery was very decently filmed and presented, and the color grading provides it an additional sense of production value in the final product. Not too much fancy camerawork here, which I felt might have over-powered the subject matter, perhaps.
Directed by Herman Yau, the sensitivity witnessed in this film resonated with me, and that's why it stands proud in the #10 spot in my personal Top Ten Films (watched) in 2015! (WHAT)
(Most still images via www.emp.hk)