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  Publicity Stills of "After This Our Exile"
Courtesy of Shaw

Awards and nominations:

1st Rome Film Festival
- Competition Section

11th Pusan International Film Festival
- Official Selection

Tokyo International Film Festival
- Best Artistice Contribution
- Best Asian Film

10th Toronto Reel Asian International Festival
- Opening Film

43rd Golden Horse Awards
- Best Feature Film Nomination
- Best Actor Nomination
- Best Supporting Actor Nomination
- Best New Performer Nomination
- Best Original Screenplay Nomination
- Best Cinematography Nomination
- Best Makeup & Costume Design Nomination

Genre: Drama
Director: Patrick Tam
Starring: Charlie Yeung, Aaron Kwok, Kelly Lin, Qin Hai Lu, Valen Hsu
RunTime: -
Released By: Shaw
Rating: M18 (Scene of Intimacy)
Official website: http://www.focusfilms.cc/teaser/atoe.htm

Opening Day: 7 December 2006


Good looks. Charming. A ladies man. Male buddies looked up to him… Not anymore. He is a shadow of the man he once was. A man past his prime, he has gambled it all away. He is down and out. And he is a father to a son who is smart and loves him dearly – though he may not always understand why his father hurts his mother so.

So when his mother plots to leave his father, the son informs the father and caused his mother to be violently beaten and locked up. Soon, his mother schemes to leave again and the son is left alone with his father. With his growing addiction on gambling, the father makes a thief out of his son. The son resists but is no match to his father’s cajoling and blackmail.

The son was finally caught and sent to a juvenile detention centre. While his father visited him, he bites off his father’s ear, marking the complete loss of innocence.

Ten years later, the son returns to his hometown and sees someone who resembles his father – they did not meet. Both father and son walks away in different directions.

Movie Review:

We are convinced that the jury at Golden Horse Awards has a thing for crying men.

If you had caught Aaron Kwok’s award-winning performance in Benny Chan’s Divergence last year, you’d remember the scene where the 42-year-old good-looker breaking down in his car, letting all gears (and tears!) go loose, upon knowing that his girlfriend might have died.

In his latest work, Kwok sheds those manly tears again, and presto, he gets a consecutive Best Actor award.

In this Patrick Tam-directed feature set in Malaysia, the singer-actor plays a never-do-well man who repeatedly disappoints his girlfriend of many years. When she decides to leave him to pursue a better future, he is left with his son. And following that is a series of unfortunate and bittersweet events which will change both of their lives forever.

The first 30-odd minutes of the movie introduces us to some melodrama, where you hear non-stop squabbling between Kwok and his on-screen wife played by the vulnerable Charlie Yeung. Just as those scenes were getting on our nerves, we are led into a gradually despaired world where father and son have to live with each other.

From there on, the mood of the film begins to slow down – a lot. That is couple with some interesting editing done by Tam himself. You see, Tam has worked on movies like Wong Kar Wai’s Days of Being Wild (1991) and Ashes of Time (1994). That clearly explains the rather unconventionally-paced style of editing here. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

So when a stylized method of editing meets such a bittersweet storyline, it may not work for some of us. But it still clinched the Best Picture prize at the recent Golden Horse Awards anyway.

Do not be mistaken that we are dissing this well-made picture, because the film is still very watch-able with its gorgeous visuals and the cast’s fine performances.

Shot in several Malaysian states, viewers from this side of the globe will be familiar with the rustic and worn-down structures in the movie. Brands and words like “Singer”, “Bus Sekolah” and “Restoran” will appeal to the nostalgic in you. Throw in some lush and rich-colored lighting – and you’d have a film with cinematography that is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Those familiar with Asian stars would spot people enjoy the performances from Kwok and Yeung (from Hong Kong), Valen Hsu (from Taiwan) and Qin Hailu (from China). It is interesting to see non-Malaysians playing Malaysians.

Of course, the director would want to tug some heartstrings by casting a dow-eyed little boy in the role of the suffering son. 9-year-old Gouw Ian Iskandar was the chosen one, and he was also awarded with a Best Supporting Actor prize at the recent Golden Horse Awards.

You know what they say, child actors always work.

After a few false endings, the film concludes with an appropriate message, and a bittersweet one at that. It will jolt your memory back to the first shot, where a female voice sings in the background: “You are my sunshine… Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

And that’s where you realize that maybe life isn’t a bed of roses after all.

Movie Rating:

(A visually enticing picture with a moving story to tell – but it could do with a little more heart)

Review by John Li


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