A HOME WITH A VIEW (家和万事惊) (NETFLIX) (2019)
SYNOPSIS: When a neighbor blocks their view of the city with a commercial billboard, a Hong Kong family resorts to drastic, imaginative measures to take it down.
Directed by one of Hong Kong’s most prolific directors, Herman Yau, A Home With A View is a social satire comedy which is based on a stage play originally written by actor and producer Cheung Tat-ming.
Lo Wai-man (Francis Ng) is a mild-tempered man who lives in a small unit with his wife (Anita Yuen), two grown-up kids and his sickly father (Cheung). With a wife that nags non-stop, squabbling children and noisy neighbours, the only consolation the Lo Family gets is a nice sea view of Hong Kong harbour via their living room’s window. Unfortunately their only “luxury” is suddenly blocked by a man, Wong (Louis Koo) who erected a gigantic billboard on his rooftop opposite their unit which hindered their view.
And now, it’s up to the Lo Family to take down Wong even it means going through numerous government bodies, getting petition from their unsupportive neighbours or worse scenario, resorting to cold-blooded murder.
A Home With A View sounds fascinating on paper or maybe on stage. Seen through the eyes of a typical family, it’s a critical piece on the problematic, pressurizing housing issue faced by the former British colony. Years of endless mortgage which took a toll on the family finances, small constraint spaces faced by the growing children and neighbours of all sorts which adds to the woes of Hong Kongers. However, instead of focusing on the core theme of the story, A Home With A View slowly disintegrate into an absurd, dark comedy that hardly anyone will find funny or satisfying.
Still, Francis Ng and Anita Yuen puts in a wonderful performance as husband and wife and ditto to Ng Siu-hin and Jocelyn Choi who plays their children. Cheung Tat-ming who in real-life has been battling cancer for years returned to the screen donning believable make-up effects. Anthony Wong cameos as Lo’s friend who seems to be a carrying a torch for his wife and Lam Suet appears as a noisy butcher. Lastly, Koo is hugely shortchanged playing a supposedly suffering character that never gets a proper exposition of his own.
Sometimes, it’s better to leave things as it is on the stage than adapting it to the big screen as A Home With A View shows. It has the potential to showcase a comedy that touches and revolves around common social issues but alas the promised themes never materialized. What you get in the end is the cast members constantly screaming at one another as if the microphones on stage are faulty and Louis Koo acting all too cool.
Review by Linus Tee