Shed Skin Papa 脫皮爸爸 (2016) - Hong Kong
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Despite all the wackiness of the genre and following the lines of Andy Lau’s “Wait Till You Grow Older” and Hollywood’s “Benjamin Button”, this is a well meaning and well acted film that talks about the life long struggles and different stages of life. Francis Ng steals the show with a diverse performance that goes from fighting against the Japanese in 1940s to the Communists China to escaping to Colonial British Hong Kong and Hong Kong handover to China. It is a story that will resonate to many Hong Kong people.
Francis Ng gives a commanding comic performance that is layered within cosmetic and inner depth. Ng manages to shows a wide range of emotions throughout the years. Louis Koo is a steadily improved actor and plays the loser husband and son role particularly well. Jacky Cai impresses as the frustrated wife of Koo and channels the performance in a natural manner. Jessie Li is another standout performer as the supportive wife of Ng’s character throughout the years. Kristal Tin shows up in a short cameo in an against type mistress performance.
All in all, “Shed Skin Papa” manages to create a well meaning story and even contains some good performances from its cast, but fails as a coherent piece of entertainment. The fact that director Roy Szeto is neither aiming for arthouse or commercial affair makes it a muddled piece of cinema. Based on the play “Nukegara” by Norihiko Tsukuda, the film probably will work a lot better as a play or act. There is fun to be had and even a chance to get emotional, but with the film delayed Hong Kong release in 2018, two years after it debuted at Tokyo International Film Festival, probably explained why as well.
I rated it 6.5/10