A Beautiful Moment film review: Simon Yam, Carina Lau star in Patrick Kong’s Lunar New Year comedy
Scattergun yet star-studded, Kong’s wonderfully incoherent tale, packed with subplots that look like they belong in other movies, has enough Hong Kong tropes to satisfy Chinese New Year cinema-goers
Writer-director-producer Patrick Kong Pak-leung’s A Beautiful Moment is a chaotically structured and exasperatingly talky comedy which nevertheless manages to entertain – mildly – while it lasts. Embracing the spirit of Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year film tradition, this blissfully incoherent story will likely satisfy its target audience with its popular local features, from extended gambling scenes to gang attacks on the streets and even a horror-comedy sketch starring Simon Lui Yue-yeung.
It helps that the film is headlined by a couple of bona fide screen stars in Simon Yam Tat-wah and Carina Lau Ka-ling, whose mature presence – coming almost as a shock in a Kong production – lends some much-needed respectability to the frivolous proceedings.
Yam plays Simon, a property tycoon who has accumulated an immense fortune by gleefully immoral means, while Lau plays Bo, a psychiatrist whose unconventional therapy sessions have made her both rich and famous.
While any self-respecting filmmaker would abhor spoilers about a major plot twist two-thirds into his film, Kong is clearly not that person. And so viewers who have either watched the film’s trailer or just read its Chinese title (which translates as “My Rival-in-love/Son-in-law”) would know that Simon and Bo are in fact long-estranged former lovers who are reunited when he unwittingly becomes the fiancé of her young daughter, Michelle (Michelle Wai Sze-nga, always a delight).
As unprofessional as it might seem to flood half of your film with extraneous scenes, Kong has here pretty much rendered himself critic-proof by going all out to please. Whereas the plot strand following Philip Keung Ho-man’s gambling addict fails to convince or amuse, A Beautiful Moment draws some well-earned laughs with a side story involving Bo’s other daughter, the wacky aspiring actress Kiki (Ivana Wong Yuen-chi) – even if this plays like it has stumbled in from a different movie.
A Beautiful Moment opens on February 15
Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook