Sometimes good things come in small packages and that certainly rings true for Still Human <淪落人>, which marks a promising feature-length directorial debut for Oliver Chan Siu-Kuen.
The story revolves around Cheong-Wing (Anthony Wong), a divorced middle-aged man who is paralysed from the chest down due to an unfortunate accident. His ex-wife, who is already remarried, has now lived happily in the United States with their son. With Cheong-Wing living all alone in the public housing complex, he has to rely heavily on others to help him with the likes of household chores, cooking, bathing and sleeping on the bed.
Along came Evelyn Santos (Crisel Consunji), a newly-hired Filipino maid who arrives in Hong Kong from the Philippines. In the beginning, they have trouble communicating with each other due to their language barrier: Evelyn doesn’t speak or understand any Cantonese word at all, while Cheong-Wing can only speak limited English and has to rely on his mobile translation app to get his message across. But as time goes by, they eventually build a mutual understanding and learn more about each other.
Still Human <淪落人> benefits from great performances all around, particularly Anthony Wong and relative newcomer Crisel Consunji. It’s nice to see Anthony Wong playing a low-key dramatic role for a change and the result is no doubt one of his finest performances to date. Despite being a newcomer, Crisel Consunji proves to be a talented actress whose sympathetic portrayal as a Filipino maid trying to cope with her own personal matters while making a living in Hong Kong. In fact, their chemistry is what makes the movie such a profound experience.
Writer-director Oliver Chan Siu-Kuen brings a nice balance of comedy and drama, displaying a sharp sense of humour and enough emotional depth without going overboard or even falls victim to a typically saccharine Hong Kong melodramatic route. Except, of course, there are minor shortcomings that could have been avoided altogether, namely Austin Chau’s music score, which tends to get a little too cloying for its own good.
Still Human <淪落人> is also blessed with solid supports from Sam Lee and Cecilia Yip, who respectively play Cheong-Wing’s best friend and estranged younger sister. Look out for a brief cameo appearance from Fruit Chan, who also served as the producer of the movie.
38th Hong Kong Film Awards nominations:
Best Director (Oliver Chan Siu-Kuen)
Best Actor (Anthony Wong)
Best Actress (Crisel Consunji)
Best Supporting Actor (Sam Lee)
Best Screenplay (Oliver Chan Siu-Kuen)
Best New Performer (Crisel Consunji)
Best New Director (Oliver Chan Siu-Kuen)