Kit Hung’s desperately moving film about lost love and queer belonging is perhaps now more devastating than ever, against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s own struggle. Like its title, the film is an enigma, moving back and forth in time, in and out of life and reality, as we follow the tender, doomed romance between starving pickpocket Pascal (Bernard Bulling) and introverted delivery boy (Lu Yulai).

The film is also about death, and the ancient Chinese traditions surrounding it. We see Ricky’s mother (Yaxuan Wong), desperately ill, somehow making some kind of trans-language communication with Ricky’s new acquaintance Ueli (also Bernard Bulling). An old Hong Kong music star (Siu Yin Wong) is now old and frail. But, as Ricky explains, even when we die, we come back to visit, as a bird, or a moth, to say our last goodbye.

The tenderness of Ricky and Pascal’s love is breathtaking: the whole film succeeds at making subtle moments seem monumental; every frame counts. The music by Sepiasonic has a lot to do with this, a haunting acoustic soundtrack of layered vocals, guitar harmonics and clarinet, which tells us everything when words do not.

There are one or two overly sentimental moments (and one somewhat implausible sex scene), and yet the surreal, dream-like quality of the movie nonetheless sets its own style, and hangs together artfully. Although now over a decade old, this remains an extraordinary writer-director debut.

Watch the movie on GagaOOLala.

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