Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
NYAFF ’16: Lazy Hazy Crazy
its intentions, this film will make any man over twenty-one feel like a creepy “uncle.”
In this context, an uncle is not just an older man. They are clients of the two
part-time high school prostitutes. There will be plenty of voyeuristic opportunities,
but there are also very real emotions underlying Luk Yee-sum’s Lazy Hazy Crazy (trailer here), which screens
during the 2016 New York Asian Film Festival.
Chloe and the Malaysian Alice consider each other rivals, but they eventually
bond over their shared experiences as after-school Uncle-daters. Their third
friend Tracy clearly feels intimidated by their superior sexual confidence, but
she is still reluctant to join them in the uncle business. Tracy’s inferiority
complex is always a factor in their joint friendships, even when the three
girls become de facto roommates, moving into Alice’s flat.
are even scarcer in LHC than in your
typical John Hughes movie. Alice’s father has been working in Thailand
indefinitely, leaving her on her own to pay the rent, so what does he expect?
Tracy still has her grandmother, but that relationship is problematic. Frankly,
the after-school prostitution is presented as a reasonable economic decision
for the girls, but it eventually causes scandal within their judgmental high
school social circle. Yet, Luk always makes it clear this is not an isolated
phenomenon only affecting Chloe, Alice, and maybe eventually Tracy, bu a wider
real world trend.
times, LHC is uncomfortably frank,
especially considering its characters’ youth, yet it always feels more honest
and serious than Eva Husson’s sensationalistic Gallic teens run amok. Everything
Tracy, Chloe, and Alice do can be logically attributed to hormonal confusion
and a lack of parental structure. The girls’ interpersonal dynamics also feel
realistically real—one day they are BFFs, the next they are frienemies. Sounds
a lot like high school, right?
three co-leads are all potential future stars, particularly Kwok Yik-sum, who
has the look and the vibrant presence to be an HK Jennifer Lawrence. On the
other side of the spectrum, Fish Liew displays unexpectedly potent slow-burning
intensity as Alice, whereas Mak Tsz-yi is the grounded one, who really anchors LHC. They are the film, but Gregory Wong
makes it even trickier to take stock of the picture with his charismatic and sympathetic
portrayal of Raymond, a patron who takes Tracy under his wing through an
exclusive month-long booking (her first).
There are no easy answers or snap judgments in LHC. There are also very definitely physical,
emotional, and psychological consequences for all of the girls’ decisions.
However, the film is ultimately more hopeful than the downbeat opening
narration suggests. Luk deftly walks a tightrope, getting explicit without
feeling excessively prurient, while Jam Yau gauzy, sun-drenched cinematography
lives up to the film’s title. NYAFF digs films about HK youth gone wild, having
previously programmed films like May We Chat and High Noon, but LHC is more accessible and less depressing
than those previous selections. Recommended for mature, socially conscious viewers
only, Lazy Hazy Crazy screens this Saturday
(6/25) at the Walter Reade, as part of this year’s NYAFF.
Labels: Hong Kong Cinema, NYAFF '16