7.2/10
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Lilting (2014)

Not Rated | | Drama , Romance | 8 August 2014 (UK)
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A young man of Chinese-Cambodian descent dies, leaving behind his isolated mother and his 4-year male lover, who grieve but don't speak a lick of each other's language.

Director:

Hong Khaou

Writer:

Hong Khaou
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ben Whishaw ... Richard
Pei-Pei Cheng ... Junn (as Cheng Pei Pei)
Andrew Leung Andrew Leung ... Kai
Morven Christie ... Margaret
Naomi Christie ... Vann
Peter Bowles ... Alan
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Storyline

In contemporary London, a Cambodian-Chinese mother mourns the untimely death of her son. Her world is further disrupted by the presence of a stranger. We observe their difficulties in trying to connect with each other without a common language as, through a translator, they begin to piece together memories of a man they both loved. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Mandarin

Release Date:

8 August 2014 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Dallam See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,567, 28 September 2014, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$21,068, 17 October 2014
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmed in 3 weeks. See more »

Quotes

Richard: If you think about it, we're constantly coming out to people; so, really, you should be good at it.
Kai: If only she liked you. It'd make this a lot easier, but for some reason she thinks you're a dick.
Richard: You love this dick.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The EE British Academy Film Awards (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Sway
("Yao Yao Bai Bai")
Written by Pablo Beltrán Ruiz and Luis Demetrio (as Luis Demetrio Traconis Molina)
Performed by Yi Min
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Memorable Depiction of the Possible Irreconcilability of Cultural Differences
9 October 2014 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

Superficially speaking, the subject of LILTING resembles that of LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003), as Junn, a Cambodian Chinese mother (Pei-pei Cheng) living in London mourns the loss of her son Kai (Andrew Leung), while trying and failing to communicate with those around her. Kai's boyfriend Richard (Ben Whishaw), wants to help her, and engages the service of Vann, a translator (Naomi Christie) so that communication between himself and Junn might be improved. Meanwhile Alan (Peter Bowles), an elderly man, embarks on his own pursuit of Junn's hand.

However Hong Khaou's film looks at the difficulties of communication at a much deeper level than the purely linguistic. He invites us to reflect on the wisdom of Kai's decision to put his mother in sheltered accommodation, whose dingy décor is designed to make elderly people 'feel better.' Despite Richard's basic kindness and his protestations of endless love for Kai, we wonder whether he actually understand what either Kai or Junn actually think. Maybe it's not really necessary to hire a translator: communication between individuals can take place at a subliminal level. Vann does her best to act as an intermediary between Junn and Richard, or Junn and Alan, but it's clear that her role is a peripheral one in the drama of familial relationships across cultures.

Shot in deliberately dark colors, LILTING depicts a world whose protagonists live in perpetual isolation, both literal as well as psychological. Junn's sheltered accommodation is both dark and prison-like; her fellow-residents seldom communicate except in clichés (Alan included). Richard's apartment is full of long, brick-lined passages; his kitchen is full of dirty cutlery, suggesting a fundamental inability to cope with life.

Our relationship with the two central protagonists is a complex one. Whishaw tries his best to render Richard a sympathetic character, but the more effort he makes to try and bridge the cultural differences separating himself from Junn, the more frustrated he becomes. His final outburst, where he accuses Junn of failing to "assimilate" to contemporary British cultures, is a classic colonialist statement, leaving us to reflect on why he himself did not do more to adapt himself to her mores. By contrast Junn remains both silent and serene; her final soliloquy reveals her determination to continue her existence, despite the prospect of future loneliness. She does not need to "assimilate"; she has found her own way to negotiate the culture she inhabits.

Modestly budgeted yet memorably staged by a director with an obvious affinity for the material, LILTING is an absorbing cinematic experience.


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