May & August
Hong Kong 2002
Directed by Raymond To.

The Rape of Nanking as seen through the eyes of two orphans, named May and August. The movie tries to do a lot on a small budget and comes off looking like a fairly decent Hallmark made for TV special. Cecilia Yip stars as the kids brave mother, who hides them and protects them until she cannot anymore. It's painfully dramatic stuff, and could have been riviting, but the movie is constantly undermined by clumsy scripting and direction. The discovery of their father's death early on in the movie should have been tragic but ends up being hilarious ("Where's the family dog?" the girls ask for hours until it comes back with daddy's hand in its mouth). Suggested rape scenes are handled clumsily with close ups of clutching hands and dramatic angles. Despite this the film does try hard and is at least a partial success. The child actors are very good, and the ending is sure to bring a tear to even the most stoic, that is until the director once again bungles the scene and undercuts the tragedy with ridiculous sweeping crane shots and overbearing musical cues.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on June 28, 2004.

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