Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kit Hung's "Soundless Wind Chime" - Hypnotic Visual Poetry

As dreamy as its title, Kit Hung's "
Soundless Wind Chime" meanders like some hypnotic ode of affection. Ricky (Lu Yulai) lives a joyless existence in Hong Kong, working in a small restaurant, running errands and doing odd things. When Caucasian street urchin Pascal (Bernhard Bulling) steals Ricky's wallet, this instigates a drastic lifestyle change for Ricky who inadvertently falls for the thief who unexpectedly returns his wallet. Ricky and Pascal couldn't be more different from each other. While the Swiss migrant is impulsive and prone to clubbing and sexual alliances, Ricky is passive and introverted. Unknown to Ricky, Pascal left an abusive relationship to stay with him.

But as fast as their decision to get a place together, Pascal turns cold and seeks the company of other men. And Ricky loses himself in his devotion to his firebrand lover. What becomes of Pascal and Ricky?

"Soundless Wind Chime" (Mo Seng Fung Ling) is one of those ouvres that you either love or hate. In fact, User Reviews in imdb are scathing, calling it a "waste of time". But if you look closer, the deft camera work and cross-cutting of scenes and situation that blur imagination and reality are exquisite. In a seemingly alternate reality, Ricky travels to Switzerland looking for clues into Pascal's tempestuous veneer, thereby cinematically highlighting the stark discongruity of Pascal's background from Ricky's ambiguous origins in smoke-riddled Beijing where his mother is afflicted with cancer. In another cinematic strain, we find Pascal navigating the bowels of Beijing as he rummages for Ricky's causality. But the narrative chronology refutes these seeming mislaid vignettes. Are these memories? Or mere daydreams? From whose point of view? It baffles, and ultimately dazzles.

I'm prone to compare this with Shireen Seno's carelessly assembled "Big Boy", but, unlike the latter, Kit Hung's images - employing hand held - are beautifully and breath-takingly composed!
When a child suddenly pitches into a song, we're transported into Ricky's microcosm, too far removed from our own. It's an elegiac world that lures to be embraced.

"Soundless Wind Chime", in all its fleeting narrative interludes and its exiguous exposition, deserves to be seen more than once. Maybe we can unravel further clues from its somnolent story telling. But we can justify why it lingers way after the film closes.

Lu Yulai is Ricky.

Hopelessly compelling Pascal (Bernhard Bulling) in Hong Kong's haste.

Introspective and troubled Pascal

Fortuitous lovers in Switzerland

Bernhard Bulling: Berlin-based actor plays Pascal

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