Yui-Hsu Lin, Hsin-Tai Chen, Jieh-Wen King
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…a solid, daring effort from a new director to watch.
Very few directors make such an assured debut as director Lung-Yin Lim has illustrated here.
The story follows Sheng (Yui-Hsu Lin) a business magnate from Taipei who stays with his relatives in Ohong Village. As he surrounds himself with locals and the beautiful landscape, he begins questioning his place in modern society as his relationship with his father becomes more and more unpredictable.
Writer/Director Lung-Yin Lim draws from his experiences which results in a film that feels very personal. The characters are palpable and in fact, the whole film is built on a sense of realism. The story deals with issues of community, class and karma and the film’s tone and pacing have an isolated and chilling feel.
The three main performances are striking: Jieh-Wen King gives a vulnerable portrayal as Ming, Sheng’s father, while Yui-Hsu Lin and Hsin-Tai Chen capture the feeling of disillusionment in young people’s lives.
Ohong Village has a stunning variety of wide shots across beautiful scenery. The film was shot on Kodak 16mm film and this adds to the vibrancy and the general aesthetic. From the beach wasteland at the start to the city lights, the film always dazzles and surprises in its variety of locations.
While the film’s themes and tone are refreshingly complex, the characters do feel underwritten and over-simplistic at points. There are instances of the characters telling rather than showing and it feels undercooked, especially since the rest of the film is so nuanced. The female characters feel side-lined in the overall narrative and don’t get much to do. A more prominent female perspective could have added depth to the story. The ending rushes the character arcs and results in an underwhelming and obvious conclusion to an overall unpredictable narrative.
All in all, though, a solid, daring effort from a new director to watch.