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  Publicity Stills of "Diary"
Courtesy of GV

Genre: Thriller/Drama
Director: Oxide Pang
Starring: Charlene Choi, Shawn Yue and Isabella Leong

RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: TBA

Opening Day: 26 October 2006


After breaking up with her ex-boyfriend Seth, Winnie (Charlene Choi) falls into depression until one day when she meets Ray (Shawn Yue). After much encouragement from best friend Yvonne (Isabella Leong), Winnie started going out with Ray, who coincidentally looks exactly like Seth!

Their relationship starts off promisingly before it turns cold after a couple of months. Winnie, once again, set into another period of misery. Is Ray seeing another girl behind her back?

Mystery unfolds when the murder happens…

Movie Review:

Produced by the Pang Brothers and directed by sibling Oxide Pang, Diary is the latest release from the creative duo whose earlier work Recycle opened a few months back. While some of their movies have been hit-and-miss, the verdict for Diary is difficult, as half of me thought that it was a refreshing break from their usual horror flicks to take on something more psychological, while the other half can think of at least three relatively recent movies which I thought the story borrowed a classical idea or two from.

Diary begins without much fanfare, telling the story of a lonely girl Winnie (Charlene Choi), whose
unrequited love for her boyfriend Seth has brought about much misery. Only her good friend, played by Isabella Leong, shares the grief of her breakup. One day, Winnie meets Ray (Shawn Yue), who incidentally resembles her ex-boyfriend. The usual questions of is he who he claimed not to be, and how their love is going to be developed, runs through your mind, as not too subtle hints are dropped along the way to point you into those directions.

In the first 15 minutes, you would be forgiven if you thought this movie was one of those guy-bashing films with its almost incessant rant on how men are cads. And though the movie is meant to be a mystery thriller, somehow I think Oxide can't help but to add in a few genuinely scary moments (yes, the audience did jump), although it was in part help from the usual techniques of loud scary noises out of the blue during quiet moments. Also, there was a tad too much repetition given the nature of the need to explain things, and some events, without explanation, were unintentionally cheesy. If compared against the movies I thought it drew inspiration from, then Diary suffers from the lack of slickness in its delivery, even though it was quite evenly paced in its compact 90 minutes.

If anything good has resulted from this movie, it's the showcase of Charlene Choi's acting chops in performing a role that is miles beyond the range of what her filmography shows. For example, her other outing recently in Jackie Chan's Rob-B-Hood is atypical of the cutie-pie roles she gets handed. Here, while at times being her sweet self, most times she's just plain unglamourous in a role which called for her to act angry, confused, vulnerable, loving, strong, and even spaced out. Shawn Yue and Isabella Leong are relegated to supporting roles here though, as their characters don't really have much to do. It's all Charlene, in a break from stereotype.

Given the crew was predominantly Thai, you can feel the employment of the usual techniques used in Thai horror, with plenty of mid to close up shots and quick cuts used to provide a sense of confusion that the characters go through. Surprisingly, the credits were all over the place, adding to the disarray of the narrative flow, but probably an attempt to come one up on any of those who thought they had already figured things out.

Watch this if you're a Charlene Choi fan to see how different her role here is from the rest of what she did, or if you're a true blue fan of the Pang Brothers works.

Movie Rating:

(The true gem is Charlene Choi's portrayal in a story that has potential to be even better)

Review by Stefan Shih

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