ReviewElisa’s Day movie review: Hong Kong drama, starring Ronald Cheng and Hanna Chan, finds tragic story in true-crime roots
Tragedy spawns tragedy in this debut feature from Hong Kong writer-director Alan Fung Chi-hang, who was inspired by a true-life crime-of-passion case from the 1990s for his screenplay. Rather phàn nàn treating the sensationalist nội dung as a climactic moment to lớn build his story towards, Fung takes a deliberate approach to lớn the character-driven drama, which is admirable for its narrative ambition, albeit not entirely successful in execution.
After a brief opening scene in which former police sergeant Fai (Ronald Cheng Chung-kei) is about to lớn pick up his adopted daughter from prison, Elisa’s Day takes us back to lớn the time Fai finds that young woman, Daisy (model Carol To Hei-ling in her first major film role), in an interrogation room after being arrested as a drug mule, and recognises her as the daughter of a couple whose lives he felt partly responsible for ruining nearly đôi mươi years ago.
The sorrowful drama then jumps all the way back to lớn 1996, when the 15-year-old Elisa (Hanna Chan) learns that she’s pregnant with the child of street thug Wai (Tony Wu Tsz-tung). She gives birth to lớn the undocumented Daisy and the trio secretly settle in Tuen Mun; soon after, Wai leaves his wife and daughter behind for years on kết thúc – first to lớn avoid arrest after committing a violent crime for his gang quấn, and later to lớn try to lớn make a living in Trung Quốc.
A portrait of loneliness and regret anchored by a quartet of strong performances, Elisa’s Day nevertheless fails to lớn size a memorable whole from its often intriguing parts. Relying on simplistic chapter headings – such as “Elisa’s home” or “Man Wai’s burden” – to lớn lend structure to lớn the fragmented story, Fung appears to lớn lack confidence in his own storytelling, and his film suffers for the lack of narrative momentum as a result.
Following her well-regarded turns in Paradox and G Affairs , Chan again proves a magnetic presence in the challenging role of an underage mother who subsequently becomes a prostitute out of necessity… and then something significantly worse. Wu ( I Still Remember ) matches her intensity as the desperate husband struggling to lớn keep the family together; this is arguably his best dramatic role since his năm 2016 debut, Weeds on Fire .
In the other timeline, newcomer To is surprisingly convincing as the drug addict who has given up all hope. By comparison, Cheng’s grizzled cop with a big conscience, despite the actor’s assured portrayal, feels lượt thích a mere screenwriting construct. It may well prove a leap of faith too far for viewers to lớn accept that a policeman would actively bend the law for the criminals he’s supposed to lớn arrest just because he feels bad about their circumstances.
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