Teresa Mo in "Mama's Affair" (2022)

Mama’s Affair 阿媽有咗第二個 (2022) Review

The last time Kearen Pang (Sau-Wai) directed a movie was her impressive feature-length debut five years ago in 29+1, where she took home the HKFA’s Best New Director award and even earned Chrissie Chau a Best Actress nomination.

Her latest movie in Mama’s Affair <阿媽有咗第二個>, where she also wrote the screenplay, sounds like another award-worthy effort: Teresa Mo plays Mei-Fung, a top artiste manager who used to successfully nurture talents like Leo Ku (the singer-actor himself made a cameo as well) has been long retired ever since she was pregnant. She has a teenage son named Hin (Jer Lau), who barely communicates with his mom even when they’re at home. His mom would constantly nag him about the upcoming IB (International Baccalaureate) exams. Still, Hin is more interested in prioritising his extra-curricular musical play at school, where he served as the director.

Then one day, Mei-Fung decided to return to work, where one of her ex-colleagues introduced her to managing a kids’ music education centre. And somehow by chance, she met a young delivery man named Fong Ching (Keung To of Mirror fame), who works in a nearby cha chaan teng. She sees the potential in him, especially after she witnesses the way he dances and sings one of the songs during a karaoke session.

Keung To in "Mama's Affair" (2022)
Keung To in “Mama’s Affair” (2022)

Soon, she plans to groom him as a singer with the help of some of her past contacts and it doesn’t take long before Fong Ching becomes an overnight sensation. As Mei-Fung finds herself spending more time managing Fong Ching, her own son grows increasingly jealous of their relationship.

Mama’s Affair <阿媽有咗第二個> benefits from a great cast all around, beginning with Teresa Mo’s dramatic portrayal as Mei-Fung, who copes between her job and her own family matter. I won’t be surprised if she lands another Best Actress nomination for next year’s Hong Kong Film Awards. In case you have forgotten, she last won her first HKFA’s Best Actress award for 2018’s Tomorrow is Another Day <黃金花>.

Then, there are the two co-stars from Mirror — Keung To and Jer Lau — who both excel in their respective roles as Fong Ching and Hin. Not only the former gets to shine with his amazing singing prowess but also his surprisingly better-than-expected performance, notably one of the pivotal moments where he faces his alcoholic father (Law Wing-Cheong) back home.

Jer Lau in "Mama's Affair" (2022)
Jer Lau in “Mama’s Affair” (2022)

The latter is just as good, with Jer Lau’s solid supporting turn that showcases his flair for acting and the high point in his performance comes from the moment, where he finally had enough of his mom keeping a secret about their family matter.

Pang’s undeniable talent for infusing a palpable and emotionally-driven drama can be seen for most parts of the movie. Even the movie’s on-and-off lighthearted moments are subtly integrated without going overboard. But given the title and the movie’s overall premise, I was initially expecting Mama’s Affair <阿媽有咗第二個> to be mainly told from Mei-Fung’s perspective.

The thing is, as the movie progresses further, it looks as if this turns out to be obvious star vehicles for Keung To and Jer Lau after all. Keung To’s Fong Ching’s character arc is particularly given the most attention here, where I begin to wonder wouldn’t it be better if they re-titled the movie instead? Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with Pang wanting to cover multiple character arcs in a single movie. But at least not to the point that the supposedly main focal point on Mei-Fung’s perspective gradually fades away, particularly during the second half of the movie.

Although Mama’s Affair <阿媽有咗第二個> lacks the same nuanced storytelling and emotional weight that made Pang’s debut in 29+1 such a must-see Hong Kong movie in recent years, her latest movie is far from a sophomore slump. It certainly has its few worthwhile moments and so do the aforementioned great acting performances, which still made Mama’s Affair <阿媽有咗第二個> a decent experience.

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