Vancouver International Film Festival
“No. 7 Cherry Lane”
Directed by the famous Hong Kong director, Yonfan, “No. 7 Cherry Lane” is a two hour trip through the latest advancements in animation and anime, the Hong Kong of 1967, and a love triangle, generously sprinkled with some mild erotica and a good dose of fantasy.
The first part of the film, “Dream Parade”, opens with views of boats in the harbour. The scene is primarily black and white. Two handsome men who resemble twins are playing tennis, but are not using a ball. As they play, the landscape is transformed to colour. Beautiful women pass by.
One of the tennis players is Fan Ziming, a student at Hong Kong University who has agreed to tutor a secondary school student who is struggling with her English.
Following a surrealistic stroll in the neighbourhood, Ziming finds the apartment at No. 7 Cherry Lane and meets Mrs. Yu, the attractive, divorced mother of Meiling, the girl he is to tutor. Meiling has not arrived home from school yet, and Mrs. Yu and Ziming become engrossed in a conversation about their mutual love of literature and details of their favourite books. The 18 year old Meiling finally arrives home and the tutoring begins.
During the second segment of the film, “Play Shadow”, Ziming begins taking Mrs. Yu to morning matinees of old movies at the theatre. He chooses films starring a younger man and older woman. At the same time, the relationship between Meiling and Ziming becomes closer. He accompanies her to a concert and takes her to a movie. The protests of 1967 in Hong Kong are an important subject of conversation among all of them.
In “Winter Cometh”, the final piece of “No. 7 Cherry Lane”, the film alternates between relatively realistic scenes and those which are completely fantastic. The screen itself might be at an odd angle; characters – and cats – come and go. It seems that there might be a denouement at the very last minute… but perhaps not.
Yonfan’s first animated film is entirely original and completely mesmerizing. Reality, invention, passion and politics intertwine seamlessly, making for an unforgettable journey. Hong Kong natives will love the fact that the characters look like, and are voiced-over by some of their favourite movie stars.
No. 7 Cherry Lane is playing:
Tuesday, October 8 6:00 pm, Centre for Performing Arts 777 Homer
Thursday, October 10 3:00 pm, Vancouver Playhouse 600 Hamilton
Review by Judy Robb
Feature image courtesy of VIFF.