Linger (2008)

17 03 2008

If history is any indication then Johnny To will probably make fifty more films this year. More than likely, this will fade into obscurity among other lesser-known films from To. Ironically enough, it also serves as my introduction into his supposedly vast universe. This does indeed remind me a bit of Ann Hui’s Visible Secret but with a much more distinct visual style. Then again, it seems like ghost-related love stories have a bit of a following in Hong Kong but I don’t mind. The popcorn romances of America are nowhere near as charming and fun as a film like this.

Dong cheats on his flowery high-school girlfriend with the much more introverted Yan. She taunts Dong’s girlfriend, which upsets him, and eventually leads to a bizarre automobile accident that kills him. Three years later, Yan now has a steady job at a law firm and manages to run on a daily basis. Despite her success, she is unable to get over the guilt she feels for Dong’s death. One night, Dong appears and strikes up a conversation with Yan, which eventually becomes a nightly ritual. Meanwhile, Yan is working on a case that involves a personality not unlike Dong’s, further blurring the line between reality and illusion.

After watching the bleached-out look of Wolfsbergen, it was nice to watch a movie with that specifically Hong Kong saturated visual style. Not quite as refined as Ho Cheung-Pang’s most recent films but still really great to look at. Of course, this is a bit on the silly side but using this as criticism seems a bit superfluous. This isn’t really a deep character study, just a really nice love story with some endearing stylistic touches. When taken out of context, some sequences feel genuinely heartbreaking, particularly the giant montage at the end. Another attribute the film’s carefree easy-going, is how surprisingly funny it is. This seems to be a generally accepted strengths of most of his films, but I was under the impression it meant really over-the-top violence-oriented humor, which I can’t say I’m a big fan of. Of course, this is one of To’s few non-action films so perhaps that type of humor is available in those films. Here, the funny moments are very understated, almost on a “cutesy” level. A perfect way to describe the film as a whole; I don’t understand how someone could not like this.

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One response

17 03 2008
Michael Kerpan

We just got our copy of this DVD — but haven’t watched it yet. Ann Hui’s Boat People got priority….

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