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Chinese language cinema

Film review: Wonder Mama - over-the-top family saga

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 June, 2015, 11:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 June, 2015, 10:38am

Family discord takes a maddening turn in Wonder Mama, a humanistic drama beset by unbearable histrionics. While it lends a sharp focus to the regrets of the folks it portrays, this new feature by producer-director-co-writer Clifton Ko Chi-sum loses its integrity by dialling the emotions up to 11 and making a mockery of naturalistic acting.

Standing amid the verbal insults and objects hurled around by her fellow veterans is the sexagenarian actress Petrina Fung Bo-bo, who captures every nuance in the role of Lovely, a 49-year-old librarian living with a reclusive adult son, Brad (Babyjohn Choi Hon-yick), and a pair of violently incompatible parents (Kenneth Tsang Kong and Susan Siu Yam-yam).

Although things temporarily quieten down after her parents divorce and her father moves to Zhongshan, Lovely is kept busy both by her endeavour to return Brad to social life and the appearance of men who claim to be acquaintances of her long-vanished husband. Then all hell breaks loose when her father announces that his housemaid is pregnant with a son.

Credit is due to Ko and co-writer Chung Yin-sze for taking a non-judgmental view of their protagonists' flawed decisions, including the father's resolve to believe without proof that the child is his. It's just a pity to see this potentially affecting story — about the process of learning to let go — ruined by its director's overblown theatrical display.

Starring: Petrina Fung Bo-bo, Babyjohn Choi Hon-yick, Kenneth Tsang Kong Director: Clifton Ko Chi-sum Category: IIB (Cantonese)

Wonder Mama opens on June 4