A dream within a dream that equates originality affair…
Review by Neo: With all the clichés and indications that Hong Kong cinema is running out of idea, it is also a fresh sight to witness something that aims to be original and creative. Director Wai Ka-Fai have done some good co-directing in the past, namely Running on Karma and Mad Detective and with now an opportunity to box sit his own film, Wai created a world within a world, a dream within a dream and a film that depicts the notion of the beauty of creativity freedom and illuminating imagination. I am sure that Written By is the kind of film that you really need to embrace the notions, go with the flow and simply enjoy the moments in the film to truly enjoy the experience. It is practically a cross between art and commercialism and in that director Wai have allowed the audience to think a little, imagine a little and simply dream a little more. It is true to say that when we dream or write a novel, the writer and the creator is the person who is in control of the world, he/she can decide who can die, who can live and what will happen. It is basically a world imagined by the writer and a world that allows people to escape from the brutal realities at some point of their lives. Written By is not a flawless film, but it gains marks by hitting the right emotional buttons and quite frankly a smart enough work of creativity that ends up working.
The movie goes like this: Lau Ching Wan plays a father of two and one day the whole family encounter an unfortunately car accident and in the process leaving Lau Ching Wan dead. His wife, played by one of my favourite muse, Kelly Lin is distraught even after a decade of Lau’s death. The daughter (played by newcomer Mia Yam) and the son have now grown up and decide to write a novel to bring their father back to life and in process healing the wounds and scars of the family
To some, the film can easily be confusing, but confusion or not, the film requires an investment from the audience. An investment of not just time, but also allowing your mind to indulge into the proceedings and suspense your beliefs in the process, to truly enjoy and embrace what Wai Ka-Fai wants you to see. If that is done, I am assuring you that you will be able to feel the touching moments, the people and the surroundings. It is those tiny moments that made the film worked and with Lau Ching Wan as one of the leads, the film is easier to digest. Not to forget, as usual with Milky Way films, the music core is crucial to the working of the film.
Lau Ching Wan puts in an unendingly interesting display. There is doubt that Lau is versatile and here, he is able to pull off a difficult character that is both tormented internally and externally. Internally being the grief of his sufferings from the lost of love ones, externally being how he learns and adapt to the world of blindness. It is probably becoming a cliche itself to praise Lau for his performance, but quite frankly there is simple doubt that Lau Ching Wan’s performance in Written By is simply one of the best sympathetic and natural character acting in 2009.
Moving on to my favourite muse since Fulltime Killer, Kelly Lin tries to age herself for an older role. Who can forget the sexiness of Lin when she roams through Conman in Las Vegas with Andy Lau? It’s been a long time and it must be admitted that Lin only really became a true actress in her brilliant yet sexy display alongside Aaron Kwok in After this Our Exile. Not Lin’s performance, but nonetheless credible enough for the audience to follow her character. Surely there is still plenty of room for improvement, but Lin is a pretty girl. Newcomer, Mia Yam impresses big time and almost singlehandedly challenged Lau Ching Wan for the throne. Almost stealing the spotlight, Mia is wondrous and touching in more than several moments of the film, which showed her potential and glimpses of more to come. The way she reacted to know that she is only one left in the family alive, is a difficult moment to act, but Mia pulled it off without overacting and the effect is simply touching and captivating to endure.
All in all, Written By is not a film for everyone, but for those that are willing and able to invest into the story, the film and characters, then the experience will certainly to be positive one. Director Wai Ka-Fai knows his stuff and along with his self-written script, Written By works due to numerous reasons. Originality is one, creativity is another, but execution is crucial to the success. It is also easing to watch through great performances and with Written By there is the veteran at work in Lau Ching Wan and the hidden gem of Mia Yam (who I predict will win the best newcomer award). Basically, Written By is not the typical HK movie and it can easily be seen that Wai have taken a huge gamble. While being experimental can be frustrating and interesting at the same time, it must be say that Written By simply works for me and kindly reminded myself about dreaming on … (Neo 2009)
I rate it 9/10