Review by YTSL
Although I consider myself more of a humanist
than an outright feminist, it does please me to see as many talented women
as there are having a significant presence in the Hong Kong movie world.
Among their number is someone who has produced her share of impressive
works in front of the camera (notably in “Queen of Temple Street”, “Full
Moon in New York” and “Shanghai Blues”) but also behind it (she helmed
and has scriptwriting credits for such as “Tempting Heart” and “Mary from
Beijing”). The broad extent along with true depth of Sylvia Chang’s
talent can be discerned -- but still not fully grasped -- upon learning
that this married mother has additionally served as a film producer, been
managing director of a cable-television network aimed at the youth market
in her native Taiwan as well as a TV presenter, and is a multiple platinum
album-selling singer (Among her hits are the wonderfully pleasant end song
of “Three Summers”, a quietly moving coming-of-age drama which she also
PASSION is a 1986 D&B production that is very
much Sylvia Chang’s show on account of her being its director, scriptwriter
and lead actress. In this understated but involving drama, which
gets more and more gripping the further along we get into it, she appears
on-screen as Wendy Cheung, a woman who the film’s audience first encounters
as a middle-aged matron in the company of an obviously close friend of
hers (Cora Miao has the supporting role of Ku Ming). All seems well
as we are briefly introduced to their daughters -- plus a well-mannered
boyfriend of one of the young lasses -- and the two older ladies settle
down to have a pot of tea while the teenaged trio go off to play tennis.
The mood remains light upon the movie flashing back to the engagement party
of a younger-looking Ming and David Lam (George Lam endows his character
with the air of a pillar of the establishment). Onto that happy scene
walks in Wendy, who we learn is the best friend from childhood, just returned
from (studying?) abroad, of the former secretary now officially engaged
to the lawyer who used to be her boss.
Watching Ming and Wendy together, I luxuriated
for a while in the warmth of the picture being painted of two long-time
female friends enjoying each other’s company (that one seems to more infrequently
come across in Hollywood than Hong Kong works). Alarm bells started
to ring in my head though upon it becoming evident that not only Ming but
her fiancé as well appeared to have better rapport with Wendy than
each other. Around this time, my view of Ming and Wendy’s relationship
as resembling that of the bosom buddies portrayed by Brigitte Lin and Maggie
Cheung in “Red Dust” got replaced by my retrospectively remembering there
having been discussions -- between Sylvia Chang and Hong Kong movie reporters
-- of their foreshadowing that of the rivals in love essayed by Gigi Leung
and Karen Mok in her 1999 “Tempting Heart”.
This sense of foreboding gets alleviated to some
extent when PASSION cuts back to the decades later “present” in which the
daughter of the now widowed Ming -- who is heard being addressed as Mrs.
Lam -- has Wendy as her godmother (and, presumably, Ming has a similar
relationship with the daughter of “Mrs. King”). However, the tension
starts to mount anew when the two Society types opted to follow up their
tea and cigarettes with a bottle of champagne (on account of it being a
Hong Kong movie convention of sorts for women to open up and frankly disclose
their feelings after imbibing generous amounts of alcohol!). And
soon enough, about one-third into the film, one of them is heard asking
the other: “Have you ever loved your best friend’s boyfriend?”
At this juncture, it ought to be noted that PASSION
is: Less a work that focuses on certain individuals feeling passion
(or not); and more that which looks at how people deal with whatever “natural”,
“right” or “wrong” emotions they have towards others (along with what they
feel obliged to consider when trying to decide what moves they will make).
In the process of exploring this, some understanding may be gained for
how and why it is that despite there being truth in the view that “to love
and be loved is very sad”, so many of us still continue to get tempted
to -- and often do -- give in to the strong desires that can be developed
for another human being. Once more then, Sylvia Chang has done it
again: That is, paint realistic yet sympathetic portraits of persons
with opposing viewpoints, and commingle as well as situate them in a quality
piece of work that speaks to the heart yet brims with quiet intelligence.
My rating for this film: 8.
N.B. Sylvia Chang won the HKFA and Golden Horse
Best Actress awards for her performance in PASSION. Cora Miao also
received a Golden Horse award for Best Supporting Actress, and George Lam
-- together with Lowell Lo -- won a HKFA Best Original Film Score award.
Distributed by Mega Star
The transfer is excellent - good detail and
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
There are 9 Chapters.
The subtitles are in either Chinese, English,
Thai, Vietnamese, Spanish or none.
There is a trailer for this film plus ones
for Centre Stage, Rouge, Till We Meet Again and the generic Media Asia