|The fabulous Cheng Pei Pei
Yesterday afternoon I went to a pre-release screening of Lilting at the Directors Guild Theater on West 57th Street in Manhattan. It's a remarkable film about love, loss, and memory, and a most auspicious debut for British-Cambodian writer-director Hong Khaou.
Cheng Pei Pei (Come Drink with Me; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) stars as Junn, a Cambodian/Chinese woman living in a home for the elderly in London. She'd been put there, with the expectation that it would only be temporary, by her son Kai (Andrew Leung). Junn, despite living in England for many years, has never learned to speak English and is, for all intents and purposes, totally unassimilated. Her situation is compounded because her son, who unbeknownst to her was gay, has died in an accident. Richard (Ben Whishaw), Kai's lover, visits her and tries to help her adjust to her situation, while keeping secret the real nature of his relationship with Kai.
I had hoped that the film would be pretty good or at least decent -- mainly because I'm such a fan of Cheng Pei Pei -- but I was blown away but how incredibly touching and powerful it was. All the actors were very good, but Cheng Pei Pei was incredible. Frankly, she deserves serious consideration for an Oscar nomination as Best Actress. She conveys so much with a look, a facial gesture, and her posture that one can get a strong sense of what she's saying -- always in Chinese -- without even reading the subtitles.
The film, distributed by Strand Releasing, is scheduled to open in New York on Friday, September 26 (at the Village East Cinema) and in Los Angeles on Friday, October 3 (at the Sundance Sunset Cinema and Laemmle’s Playhouse), followed by a national roll out.
I'll have a more complete review here at AsianCineFest on or just before the September 26th opening in NY.