[CFF] Merry-Go-Round 東風破 (2010) – Hong Kong
@ 2012 Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival
“regrets can be a good thing…”
“Sometimes, the biggest care you can give for someone, is by walking away…”
Merry-Go-Round is undoubtedly a film about regrets, loss and found. It is a beautiful film that is visually stunning and wonderfully acted, but somehow fails to connect with the audience on an emotional level. In similar reins to director Yan Mak Mak’s Butterfly, the film allows the actors to act out the experience and certainly a change in mood from co-director of the highly successful Gallants – Clement Cheng. As director Cheng spoke at the Festival when i asked him, regrets can be a good thing. Like Teddy Robin’s character, he used a regretful event to serve as an excuse to keep living. In a way it is a positive and noble thing to do, but in another way, it is just plain sad. I remember I once regretted a situation with a girl and it took me years before I fully recovered. Nowadays I try to live a life with minimal regrets, but sometimes, life hits you when you least expect it to happen and it is easier said than done.
2010 is the year of reborn for Teddy Robin, although he won the Best Supporting Actor for Gallants, to me, this is by far the better performance. As Teddy noted, in Gallants, he was basically playing himself, but here, he is playing a role that he has never tackled and the result is quite stunning. There is no doubt that Teddy despite his miniature looks has wonderful screen presence and with age, he has improved his dramatic range through years of experience in life. Together with Ella Koon who also put in a career best display, both lifts the film above the direction and carries the film on their broad shoulders. It is a commendable effort from both. Add in Lawrence Chou who is certainly talented and in the scene when Denise Ho told him: “Sometimes, the biggest care you can give for someone, is by walking away…” His reaction to this deep and meaningful line is simply priceless. This line is also extremely personal to me and most likely the only time the film really connected to my mind and heart. Unfortunately Nora Miao does nothing to add to the proceeding and I would have preferred more emotions being displayed by her character rather than a wooden face.
All in all, Merry-Go-Round is a well-meaning, well-acted and visually stunning piece of Hong Kong cinema. It should be complimented on directors Yan and Cheng for making this film at an uniquely Hong Kong angle. However, with all the setting in place, one would expect the film to touch the audience’s heart near the end, but somehow it never does. Instead, it feels like a beautiful piece of painting with a lot to say about the human condition, regrets, history, relationships, but never truly expressing it directly to the audience. It is a shame, as both Robin and Ella (both winners of Best Actor and Best Actress at this festival) do an amazing job in taking the film along. Still, Merry-Go-Round is a good film and certainly worth taking a look if it does ever hit cinema screens around you…
Neo rates it 7.5/10
Actor – Lawrence Chou 周俊偉
Cinematographer of 東風破 and 志明與春嬌 – Jason Kwan