Monday, April 30, 2007

SFIFF Report: After This, Our Exile - Director's cut.

Stop moving when you talk!!!!!

Director Patrick Tam introducing the film.

Roger Garcia and Patrick Tam at the after-screening Q&A, where I actually asked a question. For those at the Q&A, I was the kid that asked about Aaron Kwok shedding his pop star image, to which Tam actually called Aaron Kwok a very smart man.

I apologize for the bad quality of the pictures, which is partially due to the low lighting and not enough time to mess with the camera setting. With the sign strictly prohibiting photography, I wasn't sure if I should attempt taking a picture, but when several audience member took pictures of Tam himself (with flash, no less!), I decided to give it a try as well.

Anyway, this is my first viewing of After This, Our Exile on the big screen and with an audience. I was a little hesitant because of the length of the director's cut (160 minutes!) and a possibly unappreciative audience (i.e. those who don't know HK cinema), but I'm very glad I decided to sit through the film again. As far as I can remember, there aren't any huge changes from the theatrical cut to the director's cut. The extra 40 minutes of footage is spread out pretty evenly throughout the film, and some were cut probably not for length, but for language. There were at least three scenes where the "forbidden" Cantonese swear words were used, which would've landed the film in category III territory (no one under 18 admitted). Some of the notable changes, not in order, include (and I can't be sure all of these were new scenes, nor can I guarantee these are all the changes):


Aaron Kwok's character having to break the lock he used to lock in his wife, played by Charlie Yeung, along with him swearing.

We realize Aaron's character isn't much of a cook.

The man that Charlie Yeung's character is seeing is actually a much cleaner-looking and a suit-wearing Aaron Kwok. Yup, the mother is attracted to a version of her husband that can offer her the opposite of what she's going through.

An extension of the scene in which Aaron is threatened by loan sharks. He goes back into the kitchen and gets into an heated argument with his co-worker, which probably led to his firing.

The entire sequence where Aaron's character plays pimp to his prostitute girlfriend, played by Kelly Lin. Turns out the customer is an 80-year-old man on vacation, and Aaron's character says he needs the money to send Kelly Lin's character to study abroad.

Before Aaron Kwok's character decides to abandon Boy for England, they have one last dinner together, where Aaron serves his son beer.

Boy beginning to realize why his mother left him, the argument that ensues between him and his father, and Boy wandering away again. Also, the scene afterwards feature Aaron almost becoming a thief himself.


And obviously, there are small moments scattered here and there that I didn't list and can't recall right now. But I'm sure the question is: how is the director's cut? Anyone who felt that the theatrical cut moved too slow is obviously gonna find it even slower, as the film's methodical pacing really shows here. Anyone who felt the epilogue is too short and sudden (like me) is gonna find that the epilogue is exactly the same, except the second viewing and Tam's explanation of the ending really helped me warm up to it. Some of the abrupt breaks in storytelling (like how the father and son decide to leave the house they live in during the first act) are still there, but the addition of the small moments really help to smooth out the story as a whole. There isn't any significant plot point added, but it's amazing none of the scenes added felt like filler. Every scene seems to be where they're supposed to be (except an awkward music cue around the middle, you know which one I mean), and After This, Our Exile remains a great film. It was also interesting to hear how the audience was into it based on their reactions - ranging from disgust for the actions of Aaron Kwok's character to nervous laughter.

Oh, anyone that wanted more of the sex scenes won't get any - they remain the same in the director's cut.

Random trivia about the film:

The idea came from Tam's student, who found an article in the newspaper about a father who forces his son to break into houses to steal for him. He brought the idea to Tam, and they began to craft the screenplay from there.

The screenplay was completed in 1996, and contained 135 scenes. The final product has 77. So the theatrical cut pretty much contains only half the original story.

The English title - "After This, Our Exile," comes from a Catholic prayer.

The music in the film was personally picked by Tam himself, and many of them played very personal roles in his life, from his favorite Malaysian pop songs to his mother's favorite piano piece.

Other starstruck moment: I was standing only 5 feet away from Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells. I was tempted to walk up and talk to the man, but I was just standing in line. I don't think he went to the screening though.

Of course, only a film geek like me would consider seeing Jeffrey Wells, Roger Garcia, and Patrick Tam in one day an extremely rewarding day.

NOTE: Patrick Tam will probably be at all the remaining screenings of the film, so do check it out!

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