In a scene in Sisterhood, the protagonist Sei tries to make plans with an agent. She wants to see her after just arriving in her former home city of Macau. ‘Also gone,’ her agent says. Sei’s visiting Macau from Taiwan, and the former has changed since she lived there in the late 90’s. The city replaced her back alley eateries with gilded hotels, like the one she’s staying in. The actress playing Sei is Gigi Leung. She shows the character’s subtle shocks that intensifies when she realizes what else has really gone. She’s in the city after seeing an ad about the death of a woman she loved more than a friend.
Leung shares the role of Sei with Malaysian actress Fish Liew (Lazy Hazy Crazy). The latter plays the younger version of the character. Both capably stand in for the audience. They help director Tracy Choi deliver a Chinese perspective on a city that we mostly see through Western films. This is the second time I’ve seen Liew play a sex worker, this time working in a massage parlor. But she approaches this role with a mix of innocence and determined smarts. And that got her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards.
Jennifer Yu plays Ling, a slightly older, more confident woman who takes Sei under her wing. They bonded closely, especially after Ling gave birth to a son. However, a fight during a New Year’s Eve party made them vow never to speak to each other again. Their separation haunts Sei, the older version resorting to alcoholism. Realizing she lost Ling forever, Sei decides to reconnect with the other women working in the parlor. Sei’s story is a tamer example of love and friendship between women, but the performances make it worthwhile.