For his first full-length feature film Cambodian born British based Hong Khaou has directed and written a wee gem. Lilting (2014) is a meaningful film that does not have to raise its voice to be heard. Slow moving with oodles of feeling and a sly injection of humour, this is a relationship drama about the aftermath of a bereavement involving two young lovers who share a flat together. When Kai dies in an accident Richard is left to connect with the dead boys Cambodian/ Chinese mother Junn. She objects to living in a drab 1960’s decorated Care Home where her son has put her as temporary measure until he can explain that he and Richard are in a gay relationship. Obviously the first problem Richard encounters is the fact that Junn cannot speak a word of English. To get over this he employs an interpreter, Van (Naomi Christie) not only to speak for himself but also to allow Junn to converse with Alan, an elderly gentleman who also lives in the home and has developed an attachment to our Asian lady.
Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Cinematography Award, the film stars a beautifully convincing performance from Ben Whishaw as Richard, Andrew Leung as Kai, with Junn being portrayed by Cheng Pei Pei a Chinese actress who played ‘expert swordswomen’ in films throughout the 1960’s, she also won the Best Supporting Actress in the Hong Kong Film Awards for her part in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). You may also recognise Peter Bowes, best known for his work on TV including appearing in To The Manor Born between 1979 and 2007, who plays the aging Lothario, Alan.
As with all BBC Microwave films, the budget was minimal at £120,000 but it was the first bi-lingual film to be made under this scheme, beginning life as a play. It illustrates grief and loneliness and how different people come to terms with it, a shame there weren’t more people attending my local cinema to take advantage of this worthy addition to LGBT cinema.