Monday, August 04, 2014

Lilting Review

Monday, August 04, 2014

Written and directed by: Hong Khaou
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Pei-pei Cheng, Andrew Leung, Peter Bowles, Naomi Christie   
Running time: 91 minutes
Release date: 8th August 2014 

As part of Film London's Microwave scheme, Hong Khauo makes his feature debut with Lilting. The film follows the unlikely journey of Junn (Pei-pei Cheng) and Richard (Ben Whishaw), while neither speak the same language, they are united together following the death of Junn's son Kai (Andrew Leung). While dealing with the loss, Richard also has to try and reveal to Junn that himself and Kai were indeed a couple.

For those unaware of the Microwave scheme, it challenges filmmakers to make a feature film on a budget under £150,000. With its London setting you might think it's impossible, but Khauo does an excellent job bringing the city to light, and like Lilting’s storyline, has a simple yet effective direction.

One of the key themes of the film is language, and despite the fact that Richard and Junn language barrier requires a translator named Vann (Naomi Christie) to come and step in, they find themselves having more in common than they originally thought. And with this discovery comes the films lighter moments, which gives Lilting its biggest momentum. We see Richard trying to help Junn communicate with the help of Vann, which sees a relationship blossom between Junn and another resident of the home where she is based – cheeky ol’ lad Alan (Peter Bowles). But while these moments are sweet, we cannot help but see and feel the pain behind Richard and Junn's eyes through out. 

And that's the films key message - learning to overcome grief, and Cheng and Whishaw bring this journey to new heights with their performances. While Junn’s grief comes to a point of passiveness, Richard’s emotion is constantly on a rollercoaster and completely pushed to the surface. We've seen Ben Whishaw in a host of roles over the last few years, but none come quite close to Richard. Whishaw hits a new kind of sadness with this role, almost to a point where you find yourself feeling uncomfortable watching something so personal play out on screen. It's a no holds barred performance, and no doubt his best to date. 

Khauo has achieved something incredibly special with Lilting. While the film is slow paced and at times frustrating due to the lack of information available as the audience, we get a huge reward of spectacular acting and a tender tale of grief and acceptance at the end. If Lilting does not move you in some way, you must have a heart of stone.

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