Hong Khaou’s emotional journey from life to Lilting.
Hannah Lea reviews Hong Khaou’s Lilting, starring Ben Whishaw, which screens tonight as part of the Picturehouse at FACT Discover Tuesday series.
29 September 2014
Set in London, Hong Khaou’s Lilting tells the heartfelt tale of Junn, a mother in mourning over the death of her son (Kai) and Richard, Kai’s secret partner.
A relative stranger intruding on her life - Junn’s son’s closeted partner Richard, played by Ben Whishaw, disrupts her world. Richard is forced to hide his grief as Junn is still unaware of her son’s sexuality and merely refers to Richard as Kia’s ‘friend’ (who she has never really liked that much). Desperate to reach out to Junn, Richard becomes more a part of her life day by day, to relive small yet precious moments, as they both now begin to realise just how fleeting life can be.
After Kai’s unexpected death, Junn becomes very isolated, angry and alone now residing in a care home, with no friendship or real connections with any other residents, until she meets Alan. With their clear cultural differences and language barriers, it seems their relationship will remain limited, no matter how fond they may be of each other. However, Richard, desperate to connect with his late partner’s mother, wants to help her build a relationship with Alan, so she can regain some of her happiness and deal with her grief.
Still struggling with their loss and Junn’s lack of English Richard hires a translator to help bring the two closer together, developing a touching bond through the memories of the man they both loved. However the translator, Vann (Naomi Christie) inadvertently becomes drawn into this now emotional triangle, unsure of how much to translate honestly and what to tactfully rephrase.
This heartfelt film explores the relationships built through life and death and how tragedy can bring the most unlikely people together. It is not known how autobiographical Lilting is for director Hong Khaou, but it is certainly a deeply affecting and personal piece of cinema.
Lilting will be screened at FACT as part of Discover Tuesdays on 30 September. Tickets are available from the Box Office, by phone on 0151 902 5737 and online.