Ling’s social network is stuck in the Bermuda Triangle of friend zones. The
interconnected group of former classmates have not just one but multiple ambiguous
platonic friendships with each other. Unfortunately, none of it comes with benefits,
despite the fact everyone is ridiculously attractive in Heiward Mak’s
surprisingly grounded Uncertain
Relationship Society (trailer
screens during the San Francisco Film Society’s annual Hong Kong Cinema series.
since high school, Lam Yat Min always had a talent for music and eyes for Li,
an aspiring artist. It might be reciprocal, but neither ever takes a chance to
find out. He has a similar long-term non-relationship with campus bombshell
Kaman Kong, except maybe somewhat less so. For her part, Li has a parallel
friendship, or whatever, with Lee Choi-wa, a formerly nebbish student who
blossoms into a metrosexual apprentice hairdresser.
barely closeted photographer roommate Ho Yip also seems to harbor complicated
feelings toward him. At least he does not have an ulterior motives when he uses
up-and-coming model Kong in his shoots. Instead, Lam’s not quite rival is her
borderline abusive hipster boyfriend, Leung Wai On, whom she can never quite
break up with.
yes, its complicated, but somehow Mak avoids a host of potential tonal
pitfalls. Her blueprint script and the cast’s largely improvisational method
never come across overly glib like an episode of Friends or too precious in a Zach Braff-Noah Baumbach kind of way.
Rather it all feels pretty real and even zeitgeisty. While never explicitly
political, the main characters’ romantic frustrations are echoes by their
professional disappointments and a sense that the system is stacked against Hong
Kong’s Generation Y, who have been disproportionately drawn to the recent
Li, Venus Wong is impressive in just about every way, seamlessly depicting her evolution
from a shy student to a mature (but still unfulfilled) woman. Playing it
meta-style, HK model Kong is almost painfully vulnerable and emotionally
exposed. HK pop idol Anjo Leung is relatively down to earth and musically
credible as Lam Yat Min, but Cantopop star Eman Lam often steals scenes right
out from under him as the boss of his boutique corporate jingle house.
Just about everyone has had their maddening uncertain
relationship, but it is difficult to imagine balancing two of them
simultaneously over five or six years. Nevertheless, Mak juggles the numerous
characters and the frequent time shifts with relative ease. It is not the sort
of annoying film that it surely sounds like on paper. Nonetheless, the constant
hashtag commentaries are a mistake, already giving the film a dated time
capsule vibe. Recommended for its overall vitality and the exiting work from its
Relationship Society screens this Saturday (11/15) as part of the 2014
edition of the SFFS’s Hong Kong Cinema series.
Labels: HK Cinema at SFFS '14, Hong Kong Cinema, Venus Wong