Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
United Kingdom, 2014. London Film Productions, Lilting Production, Microwave, BBC Films, Stink Films, SUMS* Film and Media. Screenplay by Hong Khaou. Cinematography by Urszula Pontikos. Produced by Dominic Buchanan. Music by Stuart Earl. Production Design by Miren Maranon. Costume Design by Camille Benda. Film Editing by Mark Towns.
Ben Whishaw gives a lovely performance as a young man in mourning for the loss of his partner. Pei-pei Cheng is equally enchanting as the mother of the deceased, who lives against her will in the retirement home her son put her in, his way of stalling as he decided how to tell her that he was gay and living with a man. Whishaw begins to visit Cheng, who speaks a host of languages but no English, expressing his love for his late partner by hiring a translator so that she can communicate both with him and the gentleman she has become partnered up with in the nursing home. What results isn’t a bridging of cultures but a series of errors and opportunities missed, as these very strong personalities, both of them buried under grief, have countless clashes of wills and opinions. Good intentions lead to difficult situations in this powerful and tender film, one whose melancholy never gets a break and makes it feel slightly monotonous; getting these people to a place of peace and connection is worthwhile and desired, but considering how many scenes feel like the same situation being worked out again and again, it might not hold every viewer in place. With such great acting and with so little contrivance in the more emotional situations, however, it still manages to be satisfying.