Ann Hui’s Our Time Will Come <明月幾時有> has recently won her a record-breaking sixth Best Director win at the 37th Hong Kong Film Awards. The acclaimed wartime drama was also the biggest winner of that night, nabbing five awards in total.
In her first movie since the award-winning Golden Era <黃金時代> in 2014, Ann Hui returns for another round of true-story period drama. Set in the 1940s Japanese-occupied Hong Kong era during World War II, Our Time Will Come <明月幾時有> centres on Lan Fong (Zhou Xun), a schoolteacher who lives with her mother (Deanie Ip). Lan particularly idolises the work of the famous writer Mao Tun (Guo Tao), in which he and his wife (Jiang Wenli) happen to rent a room at their home. One day when Mao Tun and his wife decided to flee the country with the help of an East River Column guerilla captain Blackie Lau (Eddie Peng), Lan has unexpectedly ended up as part of the escape mission. Soon, Blackie recruits Lan to become one of the members of the Urban Unit to carry out duties such as exchanging important messages and spreading anti-Japanese propaganda.
At the beginning of the movie, it looks as if Our Time Will Come <明月幾時有> functions like a World War II spy thriller. There are moments of intrigue and espionage, complete with a double-agent subplot as seen in Lan’s boyfriend (Wallace Huo) working in the Japanese army’s headquarters as the colonel’s (Masatoshi Nagase) Chinese poetry teacher. Ann Hui even added some effective yet violent, though sparse action sequences along the way.
But Our Time Will Come <明月幾時有> works better as an ensemble drama that focuses more on small-scale characters moments than sticking solely to a spy-thriller genre. This is where Hui excels the most. Her humanistic yet beautifully restrained storytelling approach is particularly absorbing. The way she handles the movie’s everyday situations during the tumultuous World War II era is both involving and thoughtful at the same time.
The ensemble cast is equally top-notch, with Zhou Xun and Deanie Ip both deliver respectively award-worthy performances. Eddie Peng displays enough charisma to his engaging role as Blackie Lau, who is particularly deft in his sharpshooting skills. Our Time Will Come <明月幾時有> also packed with plenty of familiar faces throughout the 130-minute running time ranging from Ray Lui to Tony Leung Ka-Fai, who appears in the present-day setting as Ben, an elderly taxi driver who used to serve as Lan’s messenger during his childhood era.
Although Our Time Will Come <明月幾時有> is far from a great movie, this wartime drama remains a poignant piece of a Hong Kong cinema worth watching for.