Loading Now
Movie Critique: The Narrative of My Child (1990) directed by Johnnie To.
Movie Critique: The Narrative of My Child (1990) directed by Johnnie To.

Movie Critique: The Narrative of My Child (1990) directed by Johnnie To.

What does it take to become a mother?

Using a recipe that closely resembles the one in “All About Ah Long”, Johnnie To creates his own version of the Italian film “Incompresso” (1966) by Luigi Comencini. The film once again centers on the challenges faced by a single father, but with heightened elements of drama, tension, and violence that can be described as shocking.

To access our Johnnie To Project, simply click on the image provided.

Tribute to Johnnie To 2

Lee Chi-leung returns to Hong Kong carrying the remains of his wife and two young sons, Kin and Hong. He is now responsible for taking care of them on his own, along with a maid who shows little patience towards the changes brought by their death and the mischievous behavior of the children. It is later revealed that Lee is burdened with debts, which worsen when a friend convinces him to bet what little he has left on horse races, resulting in a devastating loss for both of them. With no other options, and owing money to his father-in-law, the maid, and others, Lee and his friend turn to a loan shark, making an already bad situation even worse. Meanwhile, Kin struggles to fulfill the roles of both parents, but fails despite his efforts, while Hong struggles to adapt to their new circumstances. As if things weren’t complicated enough, the father-in-law’s presence only adds to their troubles.

The implementation of a melodramatic approach is evident in this text, as the main characters are caught in a downward spiral due to the medical expenses of the deceased wife. Lee’s desperate and unsuccessful choices only add to the dramatic tone. However, this is not a typical melodrama where characters constantly cry and lose hope due to their circumstances. Instead, they are victims of ongoing violence that only intensifies as the story progresses. The father eventually falls prey to loan shark thugs, but his frustration leads him to physically abuse his children, especially Kin. Even the maid joins in on the mistreatment. Kin, who tries the hardest to make things better, receives the most punishment, culminating in a shocking ending that solidifies the melodramatic nature of the story. This choice makes the film impactful, but also somewhat exaggerated in terms of the script.

The writer mentions critiques of the system and the challenges faced by single parents, but eventually shifts focus away from family drama and towards intense action scenes, which are well-captured but not always realistic. The editing by Chiang Hsing-loong stands out as a strong aspect of the film, effectively maintaining a fast pace throughout, especially during the action sequences. Cinematographer Wong Wing-Hang also deserves praise for his portrayal of the suffocating environment and raw violence in which the characters exist.

The performances are also of exceptional quality. Damian Lau delivers a standout portrayal as Leung, effectively conveying his increasing despair and lack of control over his frustrations and his life. Wong Kwan-Yuen also shines as Kin, convincingly portraying his struggles and desperation in a challenging role that requires him to endure repeated punishment. Even the younger actor, Cheng Pak-Lam, impresses with his portrayal of Hong and his relationships with his father and brother. However, there is a tendency towards overacting and theatricality in some scenes, which can be a bit off-putting for viewers.

Overall, the excessive nature of “The Story of My Son” is its downfall. However, the other aspects, particularly the tension and action, redeem the movie and elevate it beyond mere mediocrity.