Director: Flora Lau
By William Page
Flora Lau’s feature debut explores a number of socio-economic issues and problems affecting people who have to cross the Bends between the seemingly similar, yet in reality rather different, worlds of China and Hong Kong.
The film is focussed on the two characters of Anna (played by Carina Lau) a wealthy Hong Kong housewife and her driver Fai (played byChen Kun), who lives in the bordering Chinese city of Shenzhen whose wife is expecting a second child in contravention of China’s strict “˜One Child Policy’. Anna’s life begins to slowly unravel as she finds herself in financial trouble as her only course of income, from her absent and seemingly bankrupt husband, disappears. In doing so, it provides an illustration of the materialism and, in some ways, shallow nature of the world in which the wealthy elite of Hong Kong live. Carina Lau’s portrayal of Anna’s deteriorating world is particularly strong as she conveys the character’s increasingly desperate attempts to keep up appearances whilst slowly realising that she is in a rather dire financial situation.
The disintegration of Anna’s wealthy and comfortable world is paralleled with the increasingly desperate actions undertaken by Fai to either pay the penalty for having an “˜illegal’ second child in China or to find a way to smuggle his wife into Hong Kong to illegally give birth. Whilst this may seem to be a simple and not altogether unreasonable action, in reality, the journey by Fai and his pregnant wife, Tingting (played by Tian Yuan) is riddled with dangers on both sides of the border.
Whilst the worlds that Anna and Fai live in are at the very opposite ends of the economic and social spectrum, the problems they face begin to intertwine as both characters take increasingly desperate actions. As the consequences of their actions become apparent, the characters are forced closer to one another’s worlds and develop an insight and appreciation into each other’s lives.
The film is a very promising debut for its writer and director Flora Lau who has, through the lives of the two main characters, been able to deal with a number of topical and highly contentious issues for residents on both sides of the China-Hong Kong border. Whether the viewer is a local who is aware of the issues or a foreigner exploring them for a first time, the film is successful in giving an insight into the relationship between the tensions, and the two worlds, of China and Hong Kong. In doing so, Bends makes for interesting and, at times, rather insightful viewing.