Renowned (and eccentric) cinematographer Christopher Doyle turns director for his highly-anticipated Hong Kong Trilogy: Preschooled, Preoccupied, Preposterous. Contrary to popular belief, the film is not dedicated to the controversial Umbrella Movement, though it does include scenes of Occupy. Instead, first and foremost, it is an experimental platform for the unheard voices of Hong Kong people, split into three sections according to age. It is about family relationships, the pressure of school, religious and political confusion, artistic struggle – all those things you thought you knew about Hong Kong.
The film breaks the boundaries of filmmaking, and is impossible to categorise. The production team selected a handful of stories from hundreds of interviewees and created whimsical imagery as a parallel (not as reenactment). There is a touching sincerity in the dominating voiceovers that sound unrehearsed, especially the children, who stumble adorably over words.
The cinematography, in contrast to Doyle’s signature dizzying, drunk-like camerawork, is much calmer. The overall colour tone is a hazy blue, and the low contrast shines a tender light on the amateur actors who portray a range of quirky characters like a cheesy beatboxer, a determined urban farmer and a little girl clad in a red raincoat who fervently worships various gods. The strangely poignant anecdotes (an old cardboard collector meeting his father for the first time and not knowing what to say) and peculiar props (artist Kacey Wong’s Farm Cart) create a sense of magic realism so rare in local films. The narrative recalls Godard, sometimes discordant and awkward, but logic is not the point of this film. It’s a space for contemplation of who we are and what we want Hong Kong to be.