Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Film Review: Floating City (2012)

Floating City (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...incredibly captivating and engaging."

The story of Bo Wah Cheun (Aaron Kwok), a mixed race orphan, who hurdles over every obstacle to become one of the country's most successful self-made man in 1940s Hong Kong.

Floating City is told as a reflective memoir of Bo Wah Cheun's life. From the beginning we know he has reached the success he has thrived for, but he finds himself in a moment of introspection, which sparks a barrage of flashbacks. It moves through the biggest moments of his life -- his stormy birth, his relationship with his cousin, his education, his work, and so on -- with brief monologues between periods. Fortunately, the story has little filler. In the end, Floating City delivers a powerful, reassuring ending.

Floating City is an emotional drama. There are moments of sadness, depression, anger, loss... but, there are also moments of inspiration and triumph. Floating City is a story of people, a story of life, a story of discrimination and a story of poverty. The story is powerful and well-written, especially the monologues, and the storytelling is smooth. I'm surprised, in a good way, how much story is in this one hour forty minute feature. Floating City is also incredibly captivating and engaging. In fact, I was surprised to see it end so quickly -- where did the time go?

Aaron Kwok takes the lead with a wonderful performance -- a restraining yet subtly emotional performance with great depth. The supporting cast was mostly great; Annie Liu was a bit out of place, though, I feel her performance would've been smoother and more authentic is she stuck to her native language. The music is wonderful, a beautiful soundtrack -- I wish it were available for purchase in the U.S., that's how good it is. The film is visually enticing -- the cinematography is beautiful, creating breathtaking images around every corner. There are a few scenes with blatant use of special effects and green screen, and I feel like these could've been easily avoided; they don't hurt the film significantly, but they should be noted. Yim Ho's direction is consistent, focused, and balanced; and, along with cinematographer Ardy Tam, Yim Ho constantly creates lush, attractive images throughout.

Overall, Floating City is a beautiful drama, both in narrative and aesthetics. The story is important and effective, the storytelling is engaging, and the themes connect with the audience -- or, at least, I related to them. Aaron Kwok also delivers a wonderful performance as the lead. A few minor gripes hold the film back from perfection, but it shouldn't be missed.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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