HKIFF Review: Interesting Dot 2 Dot Concept Draws Too Slowly

Posted 10:03 AM April 5th, 2014 by popcorn
Dot 2 Dot

Dot. Dot. Dot. Amos Why. Dot. Dot. Moses Chan. Dot. Dot. Subway Stations. Dot. Dot. Dot. Hong Kong History. Mainland Chinese teacher. Dot. Dot. Dot. Dot. Discovery. Dot. Dot. Dot. Dot. Understated romance. Dot. Dot. Dot. Dot. Dot. Clever.

Director Amos Why’s directorial debut Dot 2 Dot adds a creative twist to an ordinary tale about discovering Hong Kong’s history and romance through the use of solving unnumbered dot to dot drawings. Xue, a mainland Chinese teacher played by Meng Tingyi, discovers random dots on subway station pillars and sets out to solve the puzzles created by Chung (Moses Chan), a Hong Kong native returning from Canada. Along the way, Xue learns about Hong Kong’s current evolving issues as well as 1970s Hong Kong as told by various people, including the school’s headmaster (Shaw Yin-yin) and the school’s assistant.

Intertwining culture, history and love through childhood art into a coherent and at times humorous film is definitely very clever. The film lags and is confusing in certain areas with maybe cultural issues I can’t quite understand, such as the aggressive behavior of Chung’s female coworker who keeps asking Chung out, while Chung displays no interest even when out with her; or the often nonchalant and silent acting of Moses Chan. Are they intentional or is it Moses Chan’s acting style? The random angry outburst towards an inquisitive policeman or mainland Chinese are also probably Hong Kong insider’s comments I don’t understand.

The director makes use of very distinct shots, where every scene is like a standalone art, painstakingly pieced together into a collage. It creates nice, sharp scenes, but the scenes can also feel empty and long, making the film a bit slow in certain areas. It could also use a conflict or something for the audience to cheer on besides a budding romance.

Like his film, Director Why explained succinctly about his choice for the childhood he remembers in the 70s, adding in a joke about his age. He also chose a mainland Chinese woman to discover Hong Kong versus a Hong Kong native to convey the desire for more foreigners to learn about Hong Kong and its ever changing culture and lifestyle; Hong Kong is changing so fast that as we speak the places he filmed are no longer there.

Dot 2 Dot is a nice reminder of the Hong Kong long past and the film’s pace, though too slow, may be a reminder for the people to slow down a bit more.

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