Kai and Richard are long time lovers. Kai’s Cambodian-Chinese mother Junn is living in a London retirement home that she totally despises, because she feels lonely and also because she doesn’t speak ay English. Even more, she despises Kai’s “best friend” Richard because he came in the way of Junn moving in with Kai. Not so long ago, Kai died in an accident and both Richard and Junn are dealing with it. Hoping to connect with Junn, Richard pays her a visit but she makes her disliking for him quite apparent. Richard later comes with a friend Vann, fluent in Mandarin and English, as a translator to help Junn connect with a potential suitor Alan in the retirement home. But soon the dramatic engine kicks in as Vann begins translating longer, deeper and inevitably more painful conversations between Richard and Junn, quietly filling in the gaps for Junn about how her son lived while carefully withholding the true nature of Richard and Kai’s relationship. Both Richard and junk experience visions of Kai as a living breathing soul that stirs up their internal emotions. End may not be as exciting but we do see relationship improving between Richard and Junn and hopefully there will be a happy future for both of them.
The film is a very slow paced film and the way Richard and Junn deal with the grief is interesting. It shows us how it is not impossible to share true, meaningful moments with someone who cannot speak a word of your language. Although the Characters’ background stories are not very well established, the emotions are still vivid. While Junn is restrained, Richard does get his eyes wet on more than one occasion since he still cannot tell Junn the real honest truth about her son. The three-way bilingual conversations are paced and edited smoothly, with smart but not excessive reliance on subtitles. Richard is excellent in his role, but I felt Junn was a little too stiff. As a mother, I would have expected more reactions and emotions coming out from Junn. It’s Vann who surprisingly, in a supporting role, gives a great performance, who unwilling gets involved emotionally between the two protagonists while translating everything for them. Kai has limited role, but him and Richard make a great pair.
The movie is depressing, yet uplifting, but somehow I feel, it failed to reach its true potential. (6/10)