Till We Meet Again 生前約死後
Director: Steven Ma
Writer: Steven Ma
Cast: Steven Ma, Josephine Ku, Jennifer Yu, Himmy Wong
Running Time: 97 minutes
Country: Hong Kong
Steven Ma directs this extremely personal story dealing with mental illness, which might be almost too dark and realistic.
Mui leaves her family after an irreversible mistake made by her son Ka-wai. Years have passed, and Ka-wai is living a solitary life, now working as a salesman, still trying to look for an explanation for it all and desperately hoping to see his mother again. As the truth is gradually unveiled, Ka-wai’s own world begins to crumble.
It's clear from the start, this is a story based on real experiences. Steven Ma, who wrote, directs and stars in this film, based it on his own battles with mental health and how he dealt with his mother's death. He literally wears his heart on his sleeve for this film and doesn't shy away from showing how scary it can be to live with a mental illness, especially if the help you are getting is not working. Steven Ma does a decent job acting throughout, he shines more in the mental breakdown scenes rather than the emotional moments with his family.
The film doesn't focus on a plot, it's more about showing how dark the world can seem when you are dealing with grief and depression. And this is something the film is extremely successful at. There are moments throughout that are so troublesome and realistic, that it was tough to watch. The way they depict panic attacks is downright scary. This is eye-opening for someone that hasn't experienced this themselves. The sheer realism and not shying away from these elements, no matter how dark it gets, is something that needs to be applauded.
While the story is a little bumpy, between the psychosis and the flashbacks, the film never becomes too confusing. In part this is due to the flashbacks being colour-graded differently from the rest of the film. If it wasn't for this subtle touch, it could become confusing as some of the flashbacks so long that you might forget as you slowly adjust to the visual style.
Problems aside, this feels like an important film and story. It's one of the most realistic portrayals of mental health issues problems that we have had on screen. And while it might feel dark and depressing at times to watch, that is how it keeps up its accuracy. Till We Meet Again might not be for everyone, but if this is a topic of interest for you, then there is plenty in here to digest.
Till We Meet Again is streaming as part of the Focus Hong Kong Film Festival from the 9th of February at 10:00 GMT until the 15th of February at 23:59 GMT.