|Let's Love Hong Kong
Hong Kong, 2002
Chung-Ching Wong, Erica Lam, Colette Koo
Romance / Drama
|Ho Yuk (the Chinese name for this film) is an adjective for ‘moves too fast’, but ‘Ho’ also has connotations of both femaleness, and vibration. The erotic implications of this title are carried through to the film, with the same deftness and multivalence. Let’s Love Hong Kong is a beautifully shot story of three lesbian women whose lives quietly interconnect in Hong Kong, sometime in the near future. Visually rich, the film neverthe-less echoes with the hollowness felt by those who live amongst millions yet are still alone, are in the midst of relentless materiality yet experience little of its riches, in a city that is vastly expanded and yet has no breathing space.
Chan Kwok Chan lives in a single-room apartment with her parents and finds herself numbed by the city. Her silently loving relationship with her mother is pretty much her only communication, and otherwise she barricades herself away from the world. Her hobby of looking round apartments she can’t afford is her way of expressing her need for space and privacy: arguably the two least affordable commodities in the city.
Her emotionally bunkered existence is nevertheless more public than she would wish. She earns her money by modelling for an interactive porn website saying to all that she works ‘with computers’. She is watched by the yuppie, powerful Nicole, who satisfies herself with Chan’s web incarnatons when she is not making executive decisions or chattering inanely in a glitzy, privileged crowd.
Chan also has an unacknowledged admirer in the form of sprightly Zero, who has begun to follow her. Zero lives with other squatters in a disused cinema, a survivor with a line for every situation and casual employment for every hour of the day. She finds her patter fantastic for selling sex toys on the market, but it dries up when she encounters Chan. Her leaden-handed attempts at seduction on the tube have at least the same gangly charm as the giraffes she admires, and Chan is momentarily disarmed.
This, essentially, is a film about desire, and how it can exist in the most beleaguered of circumstances, resolution found only through what compromised form of physical intimacy can be found, from a foot-massage on the underground, to Chan’s relationship with a prosititute. Urban movement contrasts tensely with static photography, intensifying the sense of frustration and creates the feeling of the high pressure before a storm, or indeed, an earthquake, as when Nicole’s porn-induced ‘earthquake’ is cut between Zero’s partial seduction of Chan.
Towards the end the film is nearly heartbreaking in its simplicity of gesture and layers of delicate significance. Visually stunning, with saturated colours and beautifully composed photography, this film is deeper on meaning than it is long on plot, and you get the feeling the story could equally have passed over a few days or a few weeks. This doesn’t matter. Ching made three different cuts of this film and there is a real sense of surplus and an impression that the other cuts would have been just as good; tighter editing might, however, have made the narrative structure less jumbled and more independently powerful. We end up with a film as bewilderingly rich as Hong Kong itself, and any opportunity to watch it shouldn’t be missed.