WE ARE FAMILY (出租家人) (2024)

Genre: Drama/Comedy
Director: Benny Lau
Cast: Eric Tsang, Carlos Chan, Catherine Chau, Kelly Tien
Runtime: 1 hr 43 mins
Rating: PG
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 28 March 2024

Synopsis: “Rent-a-Family” specialises in offering family and friends for rent. The company consists of Carlos, the founder; Catherine, the drama coach; and Chi Kwong, the passionate small-time actor. Carlos and Catherine disapprove of Chi Kwong’s overwhelming care for their clients but they begin to rethink the meaning of “Rent-a-Family” when they see the results of Chi Kwong’s kindness…

Movie Review:

If the Eric Tsang you know is only capable of playing loud, slapstick and occasionally annoying characters, this Hong Kong movie will change your impression. We mean this in a big way - because at the movie preview screening we attended, there were audible sniffs when the end credits started rolling. And this is largely thanks to the emotionally heartfelt performance delivered by the veteran actor.

Tsang plays a middle aged man named Chi Kwong, whom we first see trying his best to stand out as an extra on a film set. Understandably, this irritates the director. Along comes Carlos (Carlos Chan) who convinces Chi Kwong to join his company WeFamily that provides family rental services. The crew includes single mother Catherine (Catherine Chau), an aspiring theatre practitioner who also serves as WeFamily’s acting coach. She gets her daughter involved sometimes as well, and the young girl seems to enjoy the gig. To round things up, there is also Chi Kwong’s landlady Wei Fong (Kelly Tien Niu) who can readily take on the task if a middle aged mother is requested by clients.

While it may be a common thing in Japan, this concept may not be familiar (or even welcome) where we reside. But imagine this, you can rent fake family members for all sorts of situations, and it is not just to save ‘face’ during Lunar New Year or gatherings with extended family members where you may be asked (for the umpteenth time in your life) whether you have a partner. The movie plays out other circumstances where such services may come in useful.

There is a young girl who has gotten her driving license and wants to show her late father that she can drive. She fulfils her wish by engaging the services of WeFamily, where Chi Kwong stands in as the girl’s father and unexpectedly the pair goes through an exhilarating police and thief car chase. Then there is a divorced man who wants to feel married to a caring woman, and an elderly lady who wants to feel the companionship with a filial grandson.

There is much to discuss about the ethics of this business, but the movie avoids the controversy by focusing on the heartwarming moments of family bonding which are made possible by WeFamily’s services. Carlos and Catherine’s back stories are briefly touched on, and everything seems to be standard fare until the 103 minute movie directed by Benny Lau takes a turn to focus on Chi Kwong.

Without saying too much, this first started with a young couple asking WeFamily to play a well to do family to please the man’s parents. One thing led to another, and the couple gets married. This is good business for WeFamily, as more actors are employed to play extended family members at the wedding. Chi Kwong’s memory is jolted at the wedding and we learn more about the man’s past.

From that point on, the spotlight is on Tsang and Tien, who are no strangers to viewers are fans of Hong Kong showbiz. The two actors effortlessly pull off one of the most heart wrenching relationships we have ever seen on screen. While it is clear that the filmmakers are turning this into a tearjerker, you go for the ride as you reflect on your own family relationships.

Movie Rating:

(Eric Tsang and Kelly Tien Niu deliver truly heartfelt performances in this unexpected tearjerker about what it means to be a family)

Review by John Li

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