By Darcy Paquet.
Broken hearts across multiple generations make for engaging viewing in Malaysian independent film Woman on Fire Looks for Water by Woo Ming-jin. Set in a small fishing village, the work’s striking visuals and subtle dramatic touches carry the mark of a significant talent.
The setting proves to be an effective backdrop for the feelings of longing and regret that make up the main narrative.
Premiering officially in Pusan (after a ‘work in progress’ show at Venice), this is undoubtedly set for further festival exposure, enhancing Woo’s reputation as an up-and-coming Asian auteur. Commercial potential for this low budget work will probably be limited to small deals within Asia, however.
Ah Fei (Ernest Chong) catches and sells frogs for a living. His modest income is supplemented by his single father Ah Kau (Chung Kok-keong), who operates a small fishing boat. Both men are entangled in complicated relationships. After a palm reading, Ah Kau feels that he is close to death and sets off for a neighboring village to visit a woman he wishes he had married years before.
Ah Fei is in love with Lily (Foo Fei-ling), a woman who works in a small fish salting factory, but she says she’ll only accept him if he raises a sizable amount of cash. Soon, he finds better employment at a shellfish processing factory, but the factory owner seems intent on getting Ah Fei to marry his own daughter.
A big part of this film’s appeal is the location shooting in Malaysian village Kuala Selangor. Numerous, repetitive shots of fish and other sea animals being processed and dried in the sun present an evocative picture of the village sustained by the bounty of the sea. However it is not a romanticised vision: Woo’s camera is just as focused on rusted buildings, floating trash and the gruesome business of cutting up fish.
Read the rest of the review here.
(After posting a link to Sebastian's negative review in my post about the film's world premiere. Sebastian had asked me, on Facebook, what kind of producer I was, to draw attention to my own film's negative review! Hah, self-deprecation is a virtue of mine! As long as anyone's willing to write or review about the films I'm involved in, I'll post it.. as long as it's constructive. So, a simple "EDMUND YEO'S A TALENTLESS HACK!" one-liner won't really get any link love. But if there are some explanation on WHY I'm an insipidly talentless hack, or HOW hopelessly talentless I am as a hack etc, yup, I'll link to it)