Fagara 花椒之味 (2019) - Hong Kong
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
In one of the best Hong Kong film in a while, Director Heiward Mak returns to form in “Fagara” also produced by Ann Hui. The film shows the gradual maturity of Sammi Cheng played character who instantly became the forerunner for best actress award. It is a terrific film that is multi layered and speaks about human characters and relationships that really matters. We are given an in-depth emotional ride as we see the characters reflect upon our life decisions, judgement of others and the notion of time, life and death. Acceptance and forgiveness also form part of the theme as Cheng produces the best performance in a decade along with pitch perfect direction and storytelling from Mak.
Sammi Cheng leads the film as the conflicted character torn between her inability to forgive her father (played excellently in the cameo by Kenny Bee). In face of impending death of her father, Cheng embarks on a level of change and reflection that goes beyond her own life and decisions. In the journey we are joined by two other sisters from different mothers and countries (played superbly by Megan Lai Ya-yan and Li Xiaofeng). The trio chemistry is what drives the film forward as we witness three lonely souls reconciling due to their father’s death. The hot pot back story also depicts a deeper message and bond with the overall premises. Andy Lau and Richie Ren makes interesting supporting cameo that adds value to the overall story.
All in all, “Fagara” does not ride the cliche or generic arena, but rather takes on a heavier and more matured topic of old age, personal growth, ambitions and family ties. It’s a beautiful film that we can see the equally maturity journey of Director Heiward Mak whose personal battle with depression and a string of poorly received commercial films. It’s great to see Mak fulfilling her potential shown in her first film “High Noon” and in turn one of Hong Kong best film in years.
I rated it 9/10