Film review: Dot 2 Dot is a touching love letter to Hong Kong
Dot 2 Dot
Starring: Moses Chan Ho, Meng Tingyi, Susan Shaw Yin-yin, Lam Tze-chung
Director: Amos Why
Category: I (Cantonese, Putonghua and English)
There’s a school of thought that believes familiarity breeds contempt — or, at least, underappreciation. Then there are those who think the more you get to know something, the more you can grow to love it. Although these ideas might appear to be mutually exclusive, both are present in writer-director-producer Amos Why’s first feature film, Dot 2 Dot.
An absorbing drama about two people with a knowledge and appreciation of Hong Kong’s local geography and cultural heritage, including the dot-to-dot puzzles that appeared in magazines such as Children’s Paradise, it shows that such knowledge and love is not limited to those who were born, and have spent all their lives, in the city.
Suet Chung (Moses Chan Ho), the creator of some enigmatic dot patterns on the walls of MTR stations, has returned to Hong Kong after emigrating to Canada with his family in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Xiao Xue (Meng Tingyi), a Putonghua teacher who has recently arrived from Jilin, realises these dots are more than just random markings, and resolves to work out what they mean.
Initially overwhelmed by the crowds in Hong Kong, and how fast Hongkongers walk, Xiao Xue doesn’t venture beyond the area near her language school and her flat.
But the dots she spots at her local MTR station pique her interest in Hong Kong, and she realises, from conversations with colleague Fei Man (Lam Tze-chung) and the school principal (Susan Shaw Yin-yin), that the patterns have connections with the city’s past and cultural fabric.
While his workmates prefer to go to karaoke, graphic designer Suet Chung likes to explore Hong Kong and take in — and photograph — interesting sights. Clearly, he and Xiao Xue are soulmates — but will either of them ever recognise that fact?
A creative effort with layers of complexity, and wonderful attention to detail, Dot 2 Dot is a low-key work that impresses with a script imbued with intelligence and sensitivity.
An independent film whose main creator clearly wears his heart on his sleeve, it makes innovative use of elements that are so everyday for Hong Kong residents, that many don’t give them a second thought: the MTR stations’ colour schemes, and the old city boundary stones, for example.
Other local references will surely inspire Hongkongers to reminisce about places that were once part of the city’s physical and cultural landscape.
The plot is structured to resemble a lovers-at-a-distance romance but, ultimately, Dot 2 Dot connects best with viewers by way of being a beautiful love letter to Hong Kong.
Dot 2 Dot opens on October 30