Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 22nd September 2012
Released on DVD across Asia and reviewed as part of International Chinese Film Festival 2012 (ICFF)
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Director Pauline Chan’s “33 Postcards” is well-meaning and even contains a surprisingly effective debut from newcomer Zhu Lin, but as a film, it suffers from a weak supporting cast, an almost unrecognisable Guy Pierce and poor production values and cinematography. Certainly not a bad film, but it never attempts to rises above its own expectations.
The Australia and China co-production “33 Postcards” is clearly an independent movie trying to tell an unsellable story. It is admirable that director Pauline Chan go to such distant to tell a story about an orphan young girl in China growing up and eventually meeting her sponsor father in Australia, only to realise he is in prison. The film suffers from a number of technical issues, most notably poor production values and much needed touch up in terms of cinematography. While, we are not looking at world class cinematography, the film wasted the beautiful scenery of endless green farmland in China and failing to make use of the beaches, blue sky and Sydney Harbour to the full effect. Perhaps, the fault be fully blamed on Chan, as the story itself is not exactly captivating and full credits must be given for Chan’s effort to make it as convincing as it can be. However, the film plays far too safe and strays away from commenting on any real issues or concern. In what could’ve been an impacting and emotionally touching finale, “33 Postcards” ends up being viewer’s friendly and the padded up ending did not help the proceeding.
Newcomer Zhu Lin puts in a wonderful and captivating acting display. It is Lin that truly carries the film, despite not being outright pretty, she is able to show a level of innocence and dogged pursuit of her sponsor father in an extremely believable manner. In many ways, Lin remains the character that the audience can relate and outshines her experienced counterpart in the form of Guy Pierce (“Prometheus”). In this performance, Guy Pierce (most likely the reason that the film got green-lighted in the first place) at first instance reminds me of the far better “Memento”, however as the film goes on, one is bound to be disappointed. Pierce seems lost, uninterested, mystery and at times out of character. Perhaps the role requires him to be distance from the audience, but it is this distance that ruins any sort of chemistry between the lead actors. This is especially disappointing as the relationship between Pierce and Lin is meant to central to the story. This in turns remove any sort of emotional impact and involvement that the audience should be experiencing. Elaine Jin (“The Viral Factor”) also appears as the motherly figure, while she is competent, fails to add anything to the film. Other Australian actors like Lincoln Lewis (“Home and Away”) and Claudia Karvan provides rather weak support.
All in all, “33 Postcards” is ultimately a personal story about how a gentle act of kindness can result in some kind of redemption of one’s life. It is an honest and well-intended film that never goes the distance. There many complex and difficult issues that film could’ve dealt with, but for whatever reasons, “33 Postcard” fails to look into it. The film also fails to explore Guy Pierce’s character, which in all circumstances is a total mess of a mind. I am not saying that “33 Postcards” can be a masterpiece, but it most certainly can be a lot better. Ultimately, it is Zhu Lin’s performance that saves the film and probably the best thing to come out of the movie. “33 Postcards” is well meaning, but flawed… (Neo 2012)
I rated it 6.5/10