Thursday, May 24, 2012

Speechless review on Polari Magazine


A really well-written and objective review of Speechless:

Last night saw the international premiere of Simon Chung’s third feature, Speechless, at the BFI 26th London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. It’s notable for a Chinese film with a gay theme that it was filmed (and is set on) the mainland, straying beyond the usually safe boundaries of Hong Kong Island. It’s a film of two halves, beginning as a slow-burning mystery-cum-romance before turning into a love-triangle thriller, but it doesn’t really manage to pull off making those parts into a cohesive whole.

A naked Westerner walks into a river and is washed up on the banks of a nearby town. The police take him in but he refuses to speak, or is incapable of speech. Eventually they transfer him to the local hospital where he is befriended by Jiang, a handsome young nursing assistant, who brings him home-made steamed buns, and a tentative friendship develops.
Before the silent foreigner can be transported to a mental institution Jiang helps him escape and takes him into the countryside where they visit the places Jiang spent his childhood. They begin to unlock things in each other, and this leads them back into how Luke, as we discover the foreigner is called, came to the decision to drown himself.

A French exchange student, Luke started an affair with Han who, along with his girlfriend Yun, is a member of a local Chinese Christian church. When Yun discovers what Luke and Han are up to she takes it upon herself to expose Han publicly and humiliates him to the point of suicide. The director cleverly tells this back-story from Yun’s point of view first before revealing the whole picture. Unfortunately this requires an overlong flashback that disrupts the narrative drive, already dislocated by the change of pace and tone once the more melodramatic thriller elements are brought in. The plot becomes somewhat overwrought and the young actors are just not strong enough to carry it.

The ending of the film is deliberately ambiguous and raises more questions than it answers about both the characters’ relationships and the relationship between China and the West. Luke’s attitude to his relationship with Han is different because he’s more relaxed about being gay and it’s as if the fact of Luke’s nationality is a deliberate strategy to contrast those attitudes, but also to examine what can happen when cultures with varying degrees of acceptance try to come together.

The film suffers along with its characters insomuch as the difficulties of communication are not just verbal ones.

Sunday, May 6, 2012



【壹周影讯:第45期】钟德胜:爱到尽后是无言 【一周亮点】

在中国电影工业迎来井喷发展的今天,华语同影仍然是死水一潭,与十年前相比不见多少起色。广电局的内容审查制度已经影响到内地一代导演的创作能力,而港台 电影工作者在北上后又大多为商业利益所挟持,不得不在题材上自我阉割。正因为这样的背景环境,我们对那些经历寂寞仍坚守自我的华语导演总是由衷的敬佩;对 他们的同志作品探索,总是给予包容和不遗余力的推荐——因为来之不易,所以需要珍惜。

来自香港地区的钟德胜(Simon Chung)无疑就是上面说的那样一位导演(事实上香港近年来仍在创作同志电影的只有云翔、钟德胜以及年轻的新人洪荣杰)。钟德胜从1996年入行到现在 拍摄的全部为同志题材。最开始是一些收获好评的短片,如“别乡”、“史丹利”和“心灰”;之后在2005年他推出了长片处女作“只爱陌生人” (Innocent),该片获得多伦多泛亚国际电影节的最佳剧情片奖。2009年他的第二部作品“爱到尽”(End Of Love)入围第59届柏林电影节的全景单元。而在“爱到尽”过去3年后,他终于带来了自己的第三部剧情长片:“无言”(Speechless)。

“无言”的故事发生在中国的南方边城。年轻的法国交换生路克在偏僻的河岸被发现时全身赤裸,醒来后处于失语和失忆状态中,但他对医院的男看护小江感到莫名 的亲切。当地派出所准备把路克送往大城市的精神病院做心理测试,但小江最终以调理身体的理由说服了大家,把路克接到舅舅家里暂住。尽管路克想不起发生了什 么,但小江在与他的相处中误打误撞的发现,原来路克的无言是因为一位叫做韩的男子,而当记忆还魂,带来的真相却是生命不能承受之轻…

对不少中国人来说,西方世界仍是自由的旗帜,不管那自由是一种能让我们享受的权利,或只是意味着我们将免于受困。对韩和小江这两个为路克倾倒的中国人而 言,路克代表的也许只是一个可让自己从平庸生活中逃脱的机会。然而生活在这个世代,一走了之的想法显得那么遥远。最关键的是,受西方思想熏陶的路克,对同 性恋和爱情的看法和我们并不尽然相同。“无言”不仅讲述爱可跨越性别,更是告诫我们爱亦如梦如露般短暂。路克的逢场作戏给他带来了苦果,而能否珍惜当下所 爱,更是未知之数。相爱很难,不如紧闭双眼。

“无言”是钟德胜导演第一部在内地取景的电影,起用的演员包括法国新人Pierre-Mathieu Vitali,香港女演员俞融蓉,以及大陆新锐模特高崎纶。在年初的香港独立影展特别亮相后,“无言”现正在伦敦的第26届同志电影节放映。而电影的国际 发行权早早由德国发行公司Pro-Fun获得,预计将在今年秋天发行。

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I was in London just last month, and Turin, by comparison, seemed almost provincial. The metropolitan area is quite spread out, but the historical centre is very compact and all the main sights can be visited on foot. I didn’t really start to enjoy myself until the day I rented a bike and went riding along the River Po. The weather was fantastic—sunny but not too hot, and the ride, through the river bank and parks, was very scenic. 

At the festival, I kept mostly to myself, not out of shyness or melancholy, but because I was so involved with my new script. Alone in a foreign city, I had few distractions, and the ideas started to flow more easily. Seeing one of two gay films a day was also very inspirational, perhaps because all gay films share a certain subversiveness and an impulse to explore forbidden desires. I wrote more in one week than I did in the past 3 months. As a result I missed most of the festival parties, even skipping out on the closing night party, no doubt offending my hosts in the process. But when the muse calls, you don’t tell her to come back later, after the party!