Previously at the ICA - Films

still: At the End of Daybreak

At the End of Daybreak

20 Oct 2009

Just when Ho Yuhang was beginning to look like Malaysia's answer to Hou Hsiao-Hsien, he throws a curveball. At the End of Daybreak was inspired by a crime story in a tabloid, and it has a fast-cut energy very different from Ho's earlier films. Tuck-chai and Ying are having an illicit affair. He is 23, but still comes on like a moody teenager; she is still at school, where she's bullied by older girls. But Ying is not yet 16…; which means that Tuck-chai faces a jail-term when her parents find out what's been going on. Tuck-chai's mother, a heavy drinker long ago abandoned by her husband, thinks that Ying's parents can be bought off. That's when everything starts to go wrong. The escalating crisis springs organically from the characters' own shortcomings, which means that the casting is crucial. Everyone in the film is fine, but the real triumph is Wai Ying-Hung (known as Kara Hui in her days as a kung-fu star) who gives the performance of her life as Tuck-chai's increasingly desperate mother. Ho delicately pushes the realist idiom towards a bluesy expressionism: in its way, this is a modern film noir. Tony Rayns

dir Ho Yuhang, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea, 2009, 94mins

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