By Diana Cheng
AAP film review
CALGARY (April 6, 2017) — The Bay Area buzz about “Mad World” is sure to draw many viewers to the Hong Kong family drama at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival.
The feature debut of director Wong Chun, the film has been a popular selection in the international festival circuit. Wong was awarded Best New Director and Elaine Jin won Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Horse Film Festival in Taipei last November. “Mad World” goes into the Hong Kong Film Awards on April 9 with eight nominations.
The film explores the internal world of a bipolar sufferer Tung (Shawn Yue), who was recently discharged from a mental institution to live with his truck driver father (Eric Tsang). The father and son live together in a cramped rental room inside of a multi-tenant apartment unit. Wong’s style of social realism depicts effectively the challenges facing a recovering mental patient. Not only is the claustrophobic living condition not helping, there is a haunting past that proves a difficult barrier to overcome. And then there is the social stigma.
Veteran actor Eric Tsang delivers a powerful performance as a desperate father who is unprepared to deal with his son’s psychological issues. On top of the mental illness, the father and son have a long, broken past to mend. “Mad World” is like a social cinema vérité, presenting a drama that could well be a reality in many families or human relationships.
Elaine Jin is another veteran actor in the cast. She plays Tung’s mother who herself had suffered mentally and physically before a tragic end. Those familiar with the work of Cannes Best Director, Taiwanese auteur Edward Yang, would be glad to note that Jin was in Yang’s highly acclaimed “Yi-Yi” (2000) and “A Brighter Summer Day” (1991).
“Mad World” does not end with despair however. Tung made one friend with his next room neighbor, a boy who is passionate about gardening and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince.” The roof top looks to be a place where both of them can take in a breath of fresh air, and where they can share their thoughts and cultivate a container garden of growth. The quotes from “The Little Prince” is a nice touch; maybe sprinkling them a bit more in the film could send out more rippling effects than just a wrap at the end. “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” There is hope above.
“Mad World” will be screened at the 60th SFIFF on April 11 and 12. For more info visit SFIFF webpage.