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Autumn Moon
Chinese: 秋月
Li Pui-Wi and Masatoshi Nagase
Year: 1992
Director: Clara Law Cheuk-Yiu
Producer: Eddie Fong Ching-Ling
Cast: Masatoshi Nagase, Li Pui-Wai, Choi Siu-Wan, Maki Kiuchi, Suen Chung-Hung, Sung Lap-Yeung, Tsang Yuet-Guen, Chu Kit-Ming, Ang Ching-Yee, Yue Siu-Ting, Ngai Wai-Man, Lee Yee-Ping
The Skinny: An unusual drama from Clara Law that could be tough going for some. However, it can prove rewarding for those who take the time to appreciate its subtle narrative.
by Kozo:

This languid drama from celebrated international director Clara Law is anything but uninteresting. Li Pui-Wai stars as Pui-Wai, a fifteen year-old Chinese girl on the cusp of adulthood - and soon to lose her past via immigration to Canada. In her final year in HK, she befriends Tokio (Masatoshi Nagase), a wandering Japanese traveler whoís retreated to HK to eat and sleep, fish and fornicate.

Pui-Wai struggles with experiencing her first love, all the while consciously aware that sheís about to lose him to her impending immigration. Meanwhile, Tokio runs into his first loveís sister (Maki Kiuchi), and canít even remember who she is. This parallel reveals Tokioís narrative relation to Pui-Wai. Heís her future made real: once wide-eyed and keenly aware of his memories, heís now jaded and without recall of the little things that compose his life.

There is a gentle give-and-take to the relationship between these two disparate, yet kindred souls. Both share the same appreciation for life: one has merely forgotten while the other struggles with the bittersweet aftertaste of her memories. Pui-Wai rejects Tokioís hard-hearted shell - itís only through his exposure to her that he begins to remember and recognize the beauty and joy in his past.

While this sounds like a supremely cheesy setup, Clara Law and Eddie Fong manage to tell their tale both subtly and simply. Using single camera set-ups, seemingly unrelated subplots, and generous long takes, they bring their message across both verbally and metaphorically. This is a film about silent revelation and quiet introspection, and not bombastic ephiphany.

Wong Kar-Wai can be seen in this film, but credit for the similar paths both Autumn Moon and Wong Kar-Wai travel should be given to another source: Japanese author Haruki Murakami. In Murakami novels like Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and A Wild Sheep Chase, the subject is society and how it affects the individual. His novels are meditations on urban alienation, as people struggle to reconcile themselves with the times they live in. The same can be said for the characters in Autumn Moon, who form a rare friendship that illuminates the value and fragility of memory. Ultimately, the film reveals life as a cyclical process - everything repeats itself elsewhere, both an unavoidable and a precious process. This film isnít explicit about what it says, but more is conveyed than whole pages of text possibly could. (Kozo 1998)

Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
Image Entertainment
Cantonese and Japanese Language
Removable English Subtitles
image courtesty of Mei Ah Laserdisc Co., Ltd.
 Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen