Rustic HK shines in provocative plot
A SECRET BETWEEN US (M18)
THE premise of the plot is a controversial one that draws the audience in immediately.
Innocent teenager Bobo (TVB actress Angel Chiang) is forced to prostitute herself to earn money to buy a kidney for her sick mother (Elena Kong).
Throw in a magnanimous boyfriend, Ken (former Hong Kong model Edward Ma), who is accepting of Bobo's livelihood, and the story looks set to be a heartrending one.
The lovers' backstory is revealed in flashback after they meet by chance a decade later at a wedding.
Beyond the provocative plot, the melancholic movie very much glosses over its content without any realistic character development.
Highly inexperienced in the sex department, the goodie-two-shoes Bobo shows no hint of distress even after the presumable shock of having to sell herself.
While the action goes on in the bedroom, the passive Ken does nothing but wait it out at Bobo's "agency".
Sex scenes are expected in the movie. However, the lovers' chemistry in bed doesn't seem natural and comes across as orchestrated.
First-time actor Ma is not convincing in his wooden portrayal of Ken, but the sweet-faced Chiang has an edge with her television-acting experience.
However, the movie by Hong Kong director-writer Patrick Kong does have its merits.
The rustic feel of Hong Kong is evoked in scenes of the childhood sweethearts' carefree years growing up in a poor neighbourhood.
One particularly moving scene is when Ken washes Bobo's hair in a back alley the night before her first job.
The heartfelt gesture was his only way of showing quiet support for Bobo and what shone through was his vulnerability and helplessness.
That simple scene alone nailed the emotional depth lacking in the movie.