Last updated on 08 February 2017
Director: Hong Khaou
Writer: Hong Khaou
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: English, Mandarin
Duration: 91 min
Stars: Pei-pei Cheng, Ben Whishaw, Andrew Leung
Lilting is a 2014 British drama film written and directed by Cambodian-born British director Hong Khaou.
REVIEW BYKevin Wight
Kevin Wight’s review:
I can’t remember the last time a film’s title was such a good description of its feel. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but there is a gentle almost haze to this beautiful film that manages to evoke nostalgia for the love felt by a mother and a lover left behind; and the subtle but very real portrayal of grief they have to deal with in the present.
Made for a paltry £120,000, Lilting looks fantastic first off. It’s obviously been made with so much love, and apart from some beautifully done and unobtrusive tricks as the film jumbles flashback and the present, it is unfussy and allows the story to take centre stage.
British-Cambodian director Hong Khaou’s debut is an assured emotional chamber piece that is anchored by wonderful turns from Ben Wishaw (rapidly becoming a favourite of mine) as the lover of a young man (Andrew Leung) who has died (in initially unspecified circumstances). He tries to make the effort to visit the young man’s mother (Cheng Pei-Pei) in a residential home she now lives in. It was initially supposed to be a temporary arrangement but her son’s death has trapped her. She speaks six languages, but English isn’t one of them. The main crux of the film deals with the problems of communication. The main subtext being that some things can’t be spoken – namely that Wishaw was her son’s lover. He always refers to himself as a ‘friend’.
What is masterfully done is to hide from us whether the mother knows. She must surely suspect, but if she does she gives nothing away. The big emotional reveal that I felt must come never arrives, or if it does, it’s cloaked in that gorgeous haze that surrounds the film. It felt so much richer and satisfying than any trite epiphany.
I adored this film. I was deeply moved by its simplicity, its emotional depth, the strength of the performances, and its humanity.
- Director: Hong Khaou
- Writers:Hong Khaou
- Runtime:86 minutes
RichardBen WhishawJunn (as Cheng Pei Pei)Pei-pei ChengKaiAndrew LeungMargaretMorven ChristieVannNaomi ChristieAlanPeter BowlesWaiter (uncredited)Peter E. HopkinsElderly Resident (uncredited)John MatthewsCafé Customer (uncredited)Shane SalterCafe Customer (uncredited)Leila Wong
In contemporary London, a Cambodian Chinese mother mourns the untimely death of her son. Her world is further disrupted by the presence of a stranger. We observe their difficulties in trying to connect with one another without a common language, as through a translator they begin to piece together memories of a man they both loved.
– Written by
- Also known as: Ritmik Zümzüme (Azerbaijan), Lilting ou la délicatesse (France), Sevgilinin Ardindan (Turkey – Turkish title),
- Rating: (1,393 votes)