review by Neo
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sexy and heartbreaking movie about...
Hong Kong movies have been known for being slow in terms of acceptance of gays and lesbians in movies, with the exception of Wong Kar Wai, most gay characters are seen as comical relief, rather than taking the subject seriously. With the new age coming up, and along with the ever changing social values in the world and HK in particular, Yan Yan Mak directs a timely controversial little independent that not only promotes lesbians, but glorifies the sexiness of it - in a fashion that even Neo is touched, by the beauty and deep of beautiful lesbian relationships. The film comments on what people don't usually see in a lesbian relationship, the pressure they face, the sacrifice they make and the social norm that they do not follow. While Neo does not support gay movements, Neo has always have no problem with two cute les making out, however, this film is not just a les movie, but a movie that reflect upon the tolerance, the consequences of hiding from reality, and the true face of humanity that even if someone is seemingly married and have children, their inner soul will always attack them internally and eventually the only way for these people to truely become free like butterfly flying in the sky is to face their own destiny.
While Neo is not an expert in the homosexuality genre of films, he does understand how brave a director must be in other to film lesbian sex scenes, but also enhancing in to the level that even heterosexual people are willing to tolerant and share the inner pain of those that are hurt. The film goes like this - Like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, Flavia (Ho) finds her lesbian passion reawakened after a chance encounter with a carefree and spirited singer/songwriter (Tian Yuan). A shattering new film from award-winning director Yan Yan Mak (Gege, 2001), Butterfly alternates between the past and the present, juxtaposing a romance to a rebellious human rights activist in 1989 with her current struggles as a wife and mother. Fronted by a brave and sympathetic performance by Josie Ho, the film dares to challenge the institutions of family and marriage while championing individual rights for all Hong Kongers, gays and lesbians included.
This movie challenges not only HK movie conventions, but extend it to a further problem - a people torn between her past, that is filled with regret of a past les lover, and facing the future of either hurting her married husband and having to choose between her child and a new les partner whom they love each other. Josie Ho plays a role of her life, never before have I seen her actually act, but this movie stretched her to the limits and in turn giving out an underrated performance that provides a mysterious depth between her character and the intimate sex scenes. However, Tian Yuan overtakes her performance by going a par better, by displaying the beauty and eroticism of les relationships and her soulful performance here can not be underestimated. This is one HK year that supporting actress award faces a hefty competition. In her first bigger role, Isabel Chan plays her character in a fashion that leaves the audience wanting more, after displaying talents in her natural performance in My Grandma is a Kung Fu Master, Chan shows enormous acting improvements in both her emotional range and the difficulties that her role requires. Her sheer presences provides an excitement in the numerous flash backs.
After a long year of 2004, Neo is finally happier not about his life, but the fact that HK movie is fighting back, perhaps it is only the last few films like Beyond Our Ken and this one, shows that HK movies can be unique and uniqueness can result in a good movie. What Neo likes about a movie is not for its plot, but the ultimate feelings that result in it and what he can discern of it or link it the either the purpose of life or the unanswerable question of the real meaning of life. Should people do what they want? Should the rule change? What makes a person more normal than the other? What the hell is social norm? Who should have the rights to make such laws? Although Neo is not totally FOR the les concept, he does understands that a person should seek what they truly wants, rather than regret it. Love can be anything, it doesn't have to be what society thinks it is right, but what ultimately what you really feel. Perhaps for a moment or second in your life, close your eyes and think about your real purpose of life... then picture yourself as a butterfly as it releases itself into the sky with one vital message to the humanity or the readers of HK Neo Reviews - FREEDOM - afterall what's life like without it!
I rate it 9/10
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Director: Yan Yan Mak Yuen-Yan
Cast: Josie Ho Chiu-Yi, Eric Kot Man-Fai, Tian Yuan
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), February 2005
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