VIFF 2014 | Uncertain Relationship Society

Posted by Vicky Chow & filed under Film, Film Festival, VIFF.

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Uncertain Relationship Society (曖昧不明關係研究學會)

Dir: Heiward Mak | Dragons & Tigers | Hong Kong | 2014 | 118 mins

Hopefully you haven’t ever been in one, but I’m sure everybody has been exposed to the idea of a love triangle in one media form or another, from tv series to films. But what happens when we have six people tangled up into complex uncertainty over their relationships with each other?

Uncertain Relationship Society follows six Hong Kong twenty-something’s in their journey of growing up, pursuing their dreams, and figuring out their relationships with one another. We have aspiring commercial musician Lam Yat Min (Anjo Leung), an artistic but job-hopping Li Ling (Venus Wong), hairdresser Lee Choi Wa (Yat Ho Wong), gay photographer Ho Yip (Yiu Sing Lam), emotionally unstable rebel Leung Wai On (Lo Chun Yip) and his model girlfriend played by Kaman Kong. The diverse personalities of the six characters were said to have been modeled off of certain characteristics of the actors themselves; director Heiward Mak had said that this project started without a script, creating an authentic chemistry between the cast.

The film itself unravels in a non-chronological order, skipping through scenes in the characters’ adult era to flashbacks during their high school years in an organized randomness that shows just enough to explain the meaningfulness of the preceding and following scenes, and keeping the audience in suspense as to what is happening and what has happened. I especially adored the detail of having hashtags plaster all over the screen filled with adjectives or personality traits every time a new character was introduced, explaining in a quick and creative way to the audience who each character was. When asked about this during the Q&A session post-film screening, director Heiward Mak explained that the idea had sprung from her own social media involvement, “sometimes the hashtags are longer than the post itself, and maybe [the hashtags] are the post.” A statement that provokes audiences to think about the future and function of text.

Although I can’t say that I think all 6 characters had their fair amount of story development, each character in the end played a vital role to explaining a different type of relationship that you can find in our society, from abusive relationships to one-sided love to homosexual relationships. My favorite quote from the movie springs up from when outsiders of the relationship view it for what it is and challenges the situation:

“Who do you think is worse, the ones that can’t break up or the ones that can’t get together?”
“It doesn’t matter, because they all did it to themselves.”

The screening of Uncertain Relationship Society at VIFF is now over, but if you didn’t get a chance to catch the movie this time around, they may post the movie as 5 episodes on Youtube sometime this month. You can follow the director Heiward Mak on facebook for more details.

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