|Index||8 reviews in total|
Written and directed by Alex Law, Echoes of a Rainbow drips with
nostalgia and bucket loads of sentimentality without going overboard
into melodrama. It's a capture of the struggles of a working class
family in 1960s Hong Kong with the constant change and hardships of
society, and the story is top notch, at the surface being able to
entertain, and beneath filled with intense, poignant filled moments and
scenes that will tug at your heart strings. With attention paid to
detail in its art department and direction, to sets and costumes, it
seemed that nothing was spared in recreating scenes, moods and
behaviours from the past.
And nostalgia is something which I feel that a sub section of contemporary Hong Kong cinema is currently going through, with bio-pics like Ip Man 2 providing a glimpse into the injustices suffered by the Hong Kongers then, being bullied on both the lawful, and unlawful fronts, by foreigners and triads alike. Soon to be released Gallants also captures the yesteryears of cinema in a fun filled manner, with martial arts being the order of the day, but with Echoes, this film is steeply rooted in drama, centering upon the lives of the Law family members. Special effects got effectively used to recreate things that no longer exist such as the old tram climbing up Victoria Peak overlooking a different skyline, and in a brilliant opening sequence involving a large fishbowl from which becomes the looking glass on which old Hong Kong got superimposed through a series of archival clips representative of the times.
But special effects cannot take the place of wonderful acting. Simon Yam, who also recently won the Best Actor award at the recent Hong Kong Film Awards for his role here (and the film garnering a lot more accolades as well) and Sandra Ng are two veterans who put on expert performances here, leading and paving the way for its able supporting cast to shine as well. We all know Simon exudes a sense of debonair cool in a number of gangster flicks, and Sandra is comedy queen extraordinaire. If there's anyone questioning their serious dramatic acting chops, this film will let those eat their words, and be truly flabbergasted by their nuanced performances of those from a generation past.
As head of the household, Simon's Mr Law is a cobbler and a man of few words, with business never booming and constantly struggling to make ends meet. Sandra Ng plays his more talkative wife steeped in a traditional caregiver role, in total departure from the madcap ones that we're so used to, as the mom who's always there for her two kids, played by Buzz Chung as the little Big Ears, and Aarif Lee as Desmond, their family's pride and joy for being in a famed school and its star track and field athlete. We see events unfold through the eyes of the little one, and Buzz Chung steals everyone's thunder in a role that encapsulates innocence, with that twinkle of mischief especially with his kleptomaniac ways. Newcover Aarif Lee also shines as the elder brother on whom hopes of a better life for his family hinges on, and Alex Law's narrative provides for that teenage romantic love with Evelyn Choi's Flora, who turns out to be someone from a different social class than Aarif (hey, it's a Victoria Peak address no less) which proves to be the chief obstacle for both to overcome.
And Alex Law's story packs plenty to keep you thoroughly and emotionally engaged throughout the 120 minute runtime, with subplots and themes revolving around the hardships that the working class face in that era of change, in a time steeped in corruption from all areas of society from the police to healthcare workers. I especially liked how Law primed the audience for the negative aspects of life then with the very subtle technique of mentioning how both sides of the law put pressure on legitimate businesses through the celebration of the mooncake festival, since we were treated to all things good such as the communal spirit stemming from close neighbours and relatives living on the same street ever willing to chip in, and share resources such as telephones and televisions.
The film encapsulates the look and feel, the music, and its attention to detail of the times is key to its success. There are moments big and small that just bring a smile to my face, be it the pop tunes of yesteryears, the identification of directors such as Ann Hui and others who pop up as supporting cast, or that smattering of the Shanghainese language that got retained in the dubbed version here, and some which left me heart-wrenched, such as when the family members have to band together to overcome a notorious natural disaster, and other difficulties that get thrown their way. As they say if Life gives you lemons, make lemonade, this family finds that will alone is sometimes never enough, although Mrs Law will have you believe otherwise through her earnestness in positive thinking. Don't be surprised too if you can identify with some of the moments and issues that get portrayed and brought up, and goes to show the superb storytelling craft that Alex Law had adopted to present his masterpiece.
Echoes of a Rainbow is now playing at limited screens, but please don't miss this just for the sake of watching the loudest blockbuster from Hollywood. It is the sincere films like these that need to be watched and appreciated, especially so when blessed with an excellent storyline, and with a myriad of characters all of whom you'll genuinely feel for, and be moved. This film gets my vote and is a definite shortlist to be amongst the best this year. The DVD will be out soon, which will mean a second, necessary viewing in its native Hong Kong language track. Highly recommended!
I was surprised that this film won an award at an international film
festival. I am not being racist, being a Hong Kong person myself. I
didn't know that Westerners would appreciate the charm and quaintness
of "unspoilt" urban Hong Kong.
This film is so full of 60s old Hong Kong flavour, that it will certainly churn up collective memories of old timers like myself. The street scenes coupled with all the other little bits and pieces of prop were so authentic that one could hear "ooohs" and "aaahs" from the audience. It was really heart-warming to see (and remember) that family closeness once existed in "ancient" times.
Being a woman, I was prepared that this would be chick-flick with a lot of tear jerking scenes, because I read a bit of blurb about the story. Fortunately, the whole movie is not all teary -- there were a lot of comical moments at the start, especially from the young star. (However, I just dislike his brawling scenes, which I found unusual for a boy of 8 years young.)
Overall, I would say this film is a "should watch", especially for locals -- to support the local film industry and to reminiscence old times.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the last decade, the proliferation in the use of fatal diseases in
plots for romance movies and TV drama from a certain area (which shall
be unnamed) has done great damage in cheapening this tragic element in
drama. Knowing that this is the true story of Director Alex Law's
childhood has gone a long way in countering this cheapening effect and
restoring to the audience the proper perspective of tragedies in life.
This is a double coming-of-age story of two brothers (8 years apart): Director Law's elder brother, a model student tragically lost to leukemia at the golden prime of his teenage and himself, a bright but somewhat delinquent kid at the age of 8 who later grew up to be a successful and well respected member of the motion picture industry. Among various other things, the love and bond between the brothers is the most affecting aspect in this movie. The "various other things" include a nostalgic look at the grass-root life of Hong Kong in the 60s, portrayals of an interesting variety of characters and their values, a simple yet all-embracing philosophy that life is made up of alternating segment of good times and hard times.
The cast is all that you hope for. It's refreshing to see Simon Yam neither a cop, a gangster, nor a fantasy villain, but a taciturn, hard-working, stern but kind-hearted father, a role he played admirably. Sandra Ng shines as the street-smart mother with an indomitable spirit. Elder brother Aarif Lee is an all-age dream heartthrob, talented in his own right, responsible for writing and singing the theme song. Younger brother CHUNG Shiu has been recruited from over 500. Producer Mabel Cheung intimates on a radio interview that from the shortlist of a few, Chung was finally selected because of his can still say his line while crying. It's this little kid that steals the entire audience's heart.
Crystal Bear for the Best Film in the Children's Jury "Generation Kplus" comments on this winning film: "With its loving attention to detail, atmospheric lighting and emotional music, this film succeeded in creating a special atmosphere. The excellent actors gave us deep insight into a moving story about two brothers."
MOVIES often transport us to worlds of fantasy and hype. This one,
however, strives for nostalgic realism, tempering yesteryear charm and
familial bond with a touch of tragedy. It is not a movie for the masses
but "Echoes Of The Rainbow" is a rare gem for film buffs who look for
something different from the familiar fare.
It will take you back to the Sixties, at the time when Neil Armstrong walked the moon, and maybe wring a tear or two out of you...
The film is about eight-year-old Big Ears (Buzz Chung Siu To, who narrates), growing up on Wing Lee Street in Hong Kong's Sheung Wan district, where his father (Simon Yam) runs a shoe shop on one end while his uncle owns a hair salon at the opposite end. Together, they take care of their customers' top and bottom, or so they boast.
Big Ears is a spoilt brat who makes a hobby of pinching stuff, quite unlike his elder brother Desmond (singer Aarif Lee) who is both a model student and a top athlete in school. The narrative follows the adventures of the two brothers, with Desmond courting the demure Flora (Evelyn Choi) - and Big Ears wearing a fish bowl on his head, dreaming of becoming Hong Kong's first astronaut.
The first thing that grabs us is the movie's attention to detail, recreating a part of Hong Kong that vibrates with local street life and small-time enterprise. The mood of nostalgia is further enhanced by director Law Kai Yu's inclusion of catchy Sixties songs, especially those of the Monkees, that Desmond loves to listen on the transistor radio. In this world, poverty may be romanticised with the neighbourhood community gathering together for dinner but the dark side, of widespread bribe-taking and corrupt cops and nurses, is also explored.
The cast is exemplary too, with young Buzz Chung effortlessly stealing the show from Aarif Lee and even veteran Yam. Chung helps to give the film a touch of playfulness and naivete, showing us Big Ear's kiddie point of view. Lee is rather bland in his role as the 'model son' and student but Sandra Ng is in her element as the resourceful and sweet-tongued mother. I find the ending rather melodramatic and predictable. Still, it seems the only way to close the story.
This movie won the Crystal Bear Award at the 60th Berlin Film Festival for Best New Generation Film and has been nominated for six prizes at the Hong Komng Film Awards. A rare and refreshing family movie. - By LIM CHANG MOH (limchangmoh.blogspot.com)
Tagline: One of the simplest yet pleasantly emotional movies of the
Simon Yam has finally found his ground. After years of nominations, sweats and determination, Yam has won his most wanted award HK Best Actor. Gladly he deserved it with both hands down. A bravo display from a true veteran at work and to say this is his best ever performance cannot be departed with understatement. The scene in the gushing of wind leading to the collapse of the shoe shop, confirms to us that Yam has finally hit the right emotional buttons. Well done. Usual writer Alex Law tries his hand at directing and the result is extraordinarily.
The story is a personal one and yet portrays the time frame of Hong Kong in the 1960s so perfectly that one feels immense into the every situation. It is rare that you come out of a commercial Hong Kong film with the same subtle feelings not seen since Ann Hui's The Way We Are. Yet, this film is far more accessible, simple and yet astonishingly moving. Echoes of the Rainbow do go the route taken, but goes about it in the most effective and simplistic of manner. Led by an excellent star turn from Buzz Chung who simply chew the scenes with both cuteness and innocence, adding to a mix is perhaps a slight mis-cast in Sandra Kwan, who still manages to impress. Perhaps, Teresa Mo (Mr. Cinema) may be a more suitable candidate for the role. The expression on Buzz's face when he hears about the death is almost seamlessly touching and almost lingering. Upcoming singer, Aarif Lee also does well and the award winning performance from Simon Yam sums up the movie. Exceeds expectations and beautiful to endure.
All in all, Echoes of the Rainbow fills the heart and the soul and despite its flaws, simplicity, it works. The film is most probably best Hong Kong film of the year and comes highly recommended...(Neo 2010)
I rate it 9/10
Echoes of the Rainbow provides an autobiographical look back at 60's Hong Kong for the director. Trouble with films like this is that they will always mean more to the maker than the audience. There's a lot to appreciate, from the wonderful recreation of the 60's, the well chosen soundtrack, and a heartfelt performance from the young lead. Outside of that, it is sometimes episodic and melodramatic, but luckily never for too long. Whenever a director makes a film like this it is both uplifting and depressing. With all the memories squeezed into two hours, real or not, it's very predictable. The best parts were when it focused on the young boy, being punished at school, going to the cinema, faking autographs etc. Overall a nice film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Life in Hong Kong in the late 1960's as seen by a little boy who loves
his big brother. His parents work hard to make ends meet but tragedy is
in the offing...
Odd memory film will either strike you as heart warming and touching or as a major laugh fest. The people around me at the New York Asian Film Festival were either laughing hysterically at the end or sobbing uncontrollably. For me the film didn't quite work since the point of view of the young boy telling the story left too much unsaid and unexplained. Too many of the characters are never developed.
This film brought many accolades to Simon Yam for best actor, and while I'm a huge Simon Yam fan I can't understand how he's a best lead actor when his role is very much a supporting one. He's wonderful, but until the end he's given very little to do.
I liked it, I didn't love it. I don't know why it's gotten th acclaim it has, then again what I like you might hate.
Worth a look.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Basically, if you're a block-headed idiot you'll love this movie. Guys
will totally hate it. I saw a lot of ladies pulling out handkerchiefs,
dabbing their eyes, but for me it was the dumbest thing ever. I cannot
believe that these people actually won awards for the sloppy job that
Basic plot line? The kid is bad. His brother is good. Then he dies. Boo hoo.
And this goes on for TWO HOURS! It's called cruel and unusual punishment, people!
There aren't any plot holes, because there is a giant hole where the plot is supposed to be. I hated it! Oh, and another stupid thing? At the end, where the little kid is grown up, all they did was sweep the actor's hair in another direction and then called him a different person. I mean, seriously?
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