TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’

Posted in TIFF 2021 by - September 16, 2021
TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’

Xue Ming (Eddie Peng) returns to the scene of his crime in Are You Lonesome Tonight? It’s a decision that baffles most viewers but it’s understandable when thinking abut the literal and figurative aspects of that behavior. There are scenes, many of them, where he does the former, and for the latter, he runs into Liang Ma (Sylvia Chang), the widow of the man he ran over. The accident and the friendship take place in 1997 Shenzhen, the year when its neighboring city Hong Kong returned to China.

Anyway, the first half of this story depicts Xue and Liang’s friendship, where they reveal truths that they wouldn’t tell their friends but then again the film doesn’t show Xue’s friends. She tells him that her last conversation with her late husband is more like an argument. Despite it being light spoilers, I won’t reveal it, but it’s the same kind of argument fictional characters have with one another before one of the belligerent party meets their end.

The story’s second half then goes off the rails as it introduces a cop (Wang Yanhui) who crosses Xue’s path. Director Wen Shinpei’s aesthetic’s similarities with Wong Kar-Wai and, strangely enough, Michel Gondry feel too strong. But this debut work shows potential for him to branch out into his own visual language. He uses his actors well enough, especially Peng, reminiscent of a young Chang Chen. And here’s to hoping he can use them to tell a complex story that can stick its landings.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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