Hey folks, Harry here with a review from Cism Ltyh in regards to JULY RHAPSODY starring Jacky Cheung and Anita Mui, whom fans of HK cinema will know and love probably at least as much as me. Especially the wonderful Anita Mui, who should be in everything always. Alas... not a perfect world. Here ya go...
long shot, but here's a review of 'july rhapsody', starring Jackie Cheung and Anita Mui that i saw at the sydney film festival. i don't know when or if it's been out in the US, but it's one of the best i've seen in ages so i thought i'd submit it. if it's hopelessly irrelevant/been covered already please ignore it. thanks for a great site
July Rhapsody centers on Lam Yiu Kwok (Jacky Cheung), a schoolteacher increasingly dissatisfied when he sees the successes his old schoolmates enjoy. When his wife (Anita Mui) starts caring for a dying associate of theirs, he finds relief from his strained home life in his work, particularly in the attentions of a brilliant, flirtatious young student of his (Lam Ya Kan).
Director Ann Hui shies away from using this conflict to depict and celebrate infantile male (hetero)sexual fantasies (i.e. American Beauty), using the student/teacher relationship as an impetus for Lam Yiu Kwok’s personal reflection, an evaluation of his life. The classic (writers) misogynist presumption of the pretty girl falling for the quiet clever kid simultaneously exercised and debunked, male love transcending the libido.
To reveal specifics would do a disservice to Hui’s masterful use of narrative, intertwining past and present to create an investigation of a family, and a revelation of all those implicities, that love that holds them together. As relationships shudder on the point of fracturing, that very crisis leads the way to forgiving past wrongs, and resolving familial tensions. These family scenes are played less for expositional melodrama than observation, the sadness beneath the mundane, what’s left unsaid in the void.
Lam Ya Kan is pitch-perfect as the precocious student, delivering some revealing dialogue with a subtle sexual aggression and a knowing maturity. Anita Mui gently comes apart as a tentative, vulnerable housewife walking a line between past and present responsibilities and conflicts – Hong Kong’s “Ugly Queen of Pop” delivering a considered performance built on waiting, fleeting disappointment and silent prayer. Jacky Cheung is a revelation – the rowdy short fused loudmouths of As Tears Go By and Bullet in the Head disappear in a career best performance of meekness redeemed as strength, age as wisdom: a man who turns away from the fantasy to see all that he has. This is one of the most beautiful, genuinely uplifting films in recent memory. Don’t miss it.