Stills of "Confession Of Pain"
(Courtesy from Media Asia & Shaw)
Crime/Thriller Director: Andrew Lau and Alan Mak Starring: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro,
Shu Qi, Chapman To RunTime: 1 hr 51 mins Released By: Shaw Rating: PG Official Website: www.confessionofpain.com
In a city of love and prosperity, a city of lost hope and
premature death, veteran detective Hei (TONY LEUNG CHIU-WAI)
feels it all: the hurt, the helplessness, the horror. When
his father-in-law, the billionaire benefactor Chau, is gruesomely
murdered in his palatial mansion, he enlists the assistance
of his former partner turned private detective, Bong (TAKESHI
On the surface, the murder smacks of a vendetta that has taken
a lifetime to fulfill. But no sooner has Bong agreed to crack
the case with Hei than he realizes nothing is what it appears
to be. Undoubtedly, they are after a monster in a perfect
crime: every detail was meticulously orchestrated, every motive
conveniently justifiable, and every culprit and potential
witness mysteriously eliminated.
But Bong has his own demon to fight. Ever since the suicide
of his pregnant girlfriend, he has lost his joie de vivre,
even though he still retains the finest instincts of a man
hunter. As he digs deeper and deeper into the case, all evidence
seems to point to Chau’s daughter and Hei’s hysterical
wife, Susan. But then the killer ups the ante by murdering
Susan as well. Bong starts grappling with the suspicion that
the man they hunt is someone very close to them, someone on
the verge of a total breakdown.
Like lost souls in a city of fallen angels, the cop, the private
detective, and the killer are doing what they must. Every
step of their journey takes them closer and closer to one
another, until a shocking denouement in which no stone is
left unturned and no one can escape unscathed.
That was all it took to convince us that
this film is the best Hong Kong production of 2006.
was a simple scene: The movie’s two protagonists, as
played by the brilliant Tony Leung and the charming Takeshi
Kaneshiro, are sitting outside the hospital in the middle
of the night. A circling tracking camera sees the two men
exchange dialogue amidst a seemingly calm atmosphere. Leung
is then put in focus when a single tear rolls down his nose
And that was it. No emotional screams; no
shrill cries; no out-of-control outbreaks. With one single
teardrop, we have witnessed one of the quietest, but feelingly
heartbreaking and painful scenes on the big screen this year.
A glance at the directors’ credit list
and you find yourself not being surprised by how well-made
this movie is. Andrew Lau and Alan Mak are the protégés
who revived Hong Kong cinema by making the critically acclaimed
Infernal Affairs series (2002- 2003).
But comparing this movie to the trilogy drama
about undercover cops would be inappropriate, because behind
the crime-thriller context of this picture is a heartfelt
tale about how depressed and lonely we are in this bustling
In fact, the aptly termed literal translation
of the movie’s Mandarin title would be “Sad City”.
The film’s centre-stage is a bloody
and cruel murder of two old men. One of them is the father-in-law
of a high-flying cop. His disillusioned ex-partner is roped
in to help solve the crime. The two friends each has inner
turmoil and conflict that they cannot get over with. And this
will culminate in a tragic truth-revealing conclusion where
the cold and solitude city looks on as the two urbanites come
to terms with their own pasts.
As you can tell from the synopsis, this movie
is not an uplifting or inspiring piece of work. How ironic
it is then, to open the picture with a scene that takes place
on a Christmas Eve night. Amidst all the cheers and festive
celebrations, you can feel the uneasiness and unease lurking
during this beautifully shot opening sequence.
Thanks to directors of photography Andrew
Lau and Lai Yiu-Fai, the entire picture captured on their
lens showcases lush and rich urban colours which feel chilly
and lonesome at the same time. The varied score composed by
Chan Kwong Wing features contrasting instruments which complement
the mood of the movie very nicely - melancholic piano tinkling
and heart-thumping ethnic Chinese drums beating are just some
of the examples.
However high the production values, what
matters most is the heart of this 113-minute movie –
a soulful story that we can all connect to.
Although the first half of the movie focuses
on the crime and all those little details that any good detective
drama should have, the second half explores some universal
human emotions which the most heartless can feel for.
It helps that Leung and Kaneshiro are cast
as the two suffering men. Needless to say, Leung plays his
character with so much ease; it feels that you are actually
interacting with him through his expressive eyes. After playing
a heartbroken actor in Peter Chan’s Perhaps Love (2005),
Kaneshiro channels his good looks and sorrowful expressions
into this alcoholic character, to some very good results.
The rest of the cast give impressive performances
too, ranging from the quietly angry Xu Jinglei, the trusted
Chapman To, and the irritatingly cute Shu Qi.
With such a talented cast and crew in place,
there is almost nothing which can go wrong. And we are glad
What hit us hard are the simple scenes where
we see the two men just sitting there, conversing and exchanging
casual banter. In some instances, these confessions of pain
reveal the saddest stories that are just waiting to be told.
one has a sad story to tell. After watching this movie, you’d
be wondering: What’s yours? And who would you tell it
(The best Hong Kong production of 2006 is a stylish and competent
look at the sad stories we have kept inside us for the longest