Film review: She Remembers, He Forgets – Adam Wong’s noble but flawed follow-up to The Way We Dance

Wong's latest film shows restraint and wise casting of up-and-coming actors, but is marred by overzealous script

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 November, 2015, 2:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 November, 2015, 12:43pm

There’s enough goodwill from Adam Wong Sau-ping’s sleeper hit The Way We Dance (2013) that any follow-up effort is likely to be judged with eagerly approving eyes. But while his low-budget dance drama showed how exhilarating direction could transcend a premise as ordinary as chasing one’s dreams, Wong’s new film looks to be a noble yet rather less captivating attempt to toe the same line.

Miriam Yeung Chin-wah plays Gigi, a jaded travel agent who’s increasingly unhappy about her marriage to high-school classmate Shing-wah (Jan Lamb Hoi-fung). After some evocative chats at an alumni reunion and escalating suspicion that Shing-wah is having an affair, Gigi begins to reminisce about their mutual school pal Bok-man, an aviation enthusiast who vanished from their lives all those years ago.

By juxtaposing the miserable middle-aged reality and the adolescent memory of Gigi, who was ironically an aspiring globetrotter back in 1992, She Remembers, He Forgets doles out its stories of lost ideals and ephemeral friendships with all their bittersweet repercussions – before losing its plot to absurd coincidences and banal revelations that have less to do with fate than overzealous scriptwriting.

That’s a pity: even when it hesitates to replicate the sentimental magic of popular coming-of-age movies such as You Are the Apple of My Eye and Our Times, this film has – before its final act at least – shown some restraint instead of overdramatising. The casting of newcomers Cecilia So Lai-shan, Neo Yau Hawk-sau and Ng Siu-hin – respectively as the young Gigi, Shing-wah and Bok-man – adds a further sheen to the story.

For all the wholesomeness that Wong has brought to his refreshingly pure vision of local school life, however, it’s hard to neglect the implausible action of his adult characters and shake the impression that his film is really a carefully curated mix of crowd-pleasing, Hong Kong-centric sentiments. The jury is still out on the former indie favourite’s quest to be known as one of the city’s finest directors.

She Remembers, He Forgets opens on November 5