Director: Kearen Pang
Cast: Teresa Mo Shun Kwan, Keung To, Jer Lau Ying Ting
Runtime: 2 hrs 7 mins
Released By: Golden Village
Opening Day: 11 August 2022
Synopsis: As MEI-FUNG, housewife and former top artiste manager, unearths a new star in CHING, she also draws jealousy from her teenage son HIN. Can a single mother find a balance between her family and her career? Is her dedication driven by love or responsibility?
Do not be misled by the title of this Hong Kong movie. Although it suggests that the mother of the house is having an affair, do not walk into the cinema expecting raunchy scenes between an older woman and a younger man. What you’d get instead, is a thoughtful drama about a woman who was once very successful in her career, retired after becoming a mother, and is returning to the workforce to make an impact.
Veteran actress Teresa Mo plays Mei Fung, a top artiste manager in her younger days (the type whom celebrities would thank at award speeches) who decided to slow down after becoming pregnant with a child. Years later after her son Hin grows up (Jer Lau from the popular Hong Kong boyband MIRROR), Mei Fung returns to work at a kids music school. She chances upon a talented waiter Fong Ching (Keung To, another member of MIRROR) who dances and sings really well, and begins to groom him as a singer with the help of her friends in the industry.
And that is the basis of the ‘affair’, where Mei Fung begins spending too much time managing the up and coming celebrity, while her own son becomes upset. Adding to the drama is the separation between Mei Fung and her husband, who is having an extramarital affair with her friend. Oh, while we are at it, Fong Ching’s estranged father has been released from prison after being involved in a car accident which killed his mother.
Phew, that’s quite a number of melodramatic plot lines – a perfect formula for a movie to feature shouting, quarrels, crying and breakdowns.
But director Kearen Pang knows better than to make a movie with this somewhat exploitative approach. With the experience of her award winning debut film 29+1 (2017), Pang returns with a 127 minute piece of work that offers enough insights into the various societal issues explored in the story. With only a few moments of outbursts, much of the movie is subdued, and even features some humour.
For viewers who have been keeping up to date with Hong Kong’s showbiz, you’d have heard of MIRROR’s rising popularity. This movie is obviously a star vehicle for Keung and Lau, who deliver impressive performances as newcomers. Keung’s boyish features makes him the perfect candidate to play a pop idol who is figuring his way in the road to stardom, while Lau has the more challenging task of portraying a studious teenager who becomes jealous when his mother spends time with a new housemate.
Mo, who has appeared in countless Hong Kong movies, effortlessly plays a woman who has to straddle with all aspects of her life. It is also nice to see other veterans taking on supporting roles - Vincent Wan Yeung Ming as Mei Fung’s cheating husband and Law Wing Cheong as a father who wants nothing more than to reconnect with his son Fong Ching.
This is a commercial and accessible movie that does not try to be an arthouse flick. It has a straightforward story with some thought provoking questions. Can a woman successfully return to a glorious career that she left behind to care for her newborn? What is the cost of balancing work, life and family, and is it really impossible to have the best of all worlds? What goes into the making of a popular celebrity?
(The drama offers enough insights into relevant societal issues, and features impressive performances from veteran actress Teresa Mo and in a pleasant surprise, newcomers Keung To and Jer Lau from popular boyband MIRROR)
Review by John Li