A Home with a View film review: Francis Ng, Louis Koo face off in satire on Hong Kong’s housing problems
- Property agent Francis Ng and his family can put up with their noisy flat and nasty neighbours because their flat affords them a glimpse of the calming sea
- When new tenant Louis Koo puts up a billboard that blocks the view, that changes in this awkward, stagy adaptation of a play
Family comedy meets social satire in this adaptation of a play by comedian Cheung Tat-ming, who produced and co-scripted the film and has a supporting role. The latest Hong Kong film to derive dark humour from the city’s housing woes (see also Get Outta Here and Goldbuster ), this is an average farce elevated by its bleak yet resonant premise.
A casually macabre story about a family of five who are put under severe financial pressure and emotional strain by the city’s absurdly volatile property market, A Home with a View, directed and co-written by the prolific Herman Yau Lai-to, is likely to strike a chord with Hong Kong audiences, but will alienate others with its overly frenetic execution and far-fetched character development.
Francis Ng Chun-yu plays Lo Wai-man, a property agent who specialises in letting out illegally converted subdivided flats in factory buildings. A good-tempered family man, Lo lives with his beautiful wife (Anita Yuen Wing-yi), two grown-up children (Ng Siu-hin and Jocelyn Choi Zung-sze) and his senile father (Cheung) in a noisy flat next to less-than-friendly neighbours.
Arguments break out every day in the household and there are still 20 years of mortgage payments to be settled, but the Los keep their sanity thanks to the glimpse of the sea their flat affords them. This respite is taken away from them when a new tenant moves into the rooftop flat opposite and erects a giant billboard that blocks their view.
The new neighbour is the enigmatic Wong Siu-choi (Louis Koo Tin-lok). Lo tries to have the offending billboard removed, but Wong cunningly claims it is a piece of contemporary art, and Lo is stuck in a bureaucratic limbo as one government official after another passes the buck. As the months pass, the Lo family consider more drastic measures to restore their sea view.
As was the case with Koo and Ng’s collaboration in the theatre adaptation Shed Skin Papa , A Home with a View feels like a forced attempt to adapt a play’s busy rhythms for the far more realistic setting of cinema. What results is a conceptually interesting film that at times fails to get its points across amid a sea of dialogue and constant mood changes. Sometimes a good play belongs on the stage.
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