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kQ (2006)

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 03/02/2011

If Oxide Pang had managed to have a more concise focus and confidence in his actors, rather than using the notion of plot twists as a crutch, the end product probably would have been more successful. For a film that for the most part takes place in only one location, Diary looks great and manages to generate some creepy feelings just from the cinematography and editing. Also, Charlene Choi, who seemed eager to get away from the cute teenybopper roles usually offered to young Cantopop stars, really does do some good work here. It's a shame that her performance couldn't have been put to use in a better production.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 05/04/2009

Diary is a really compelling viewing experience. Oxide Pang shows his best work so far. He elicits really fine performances from his actors. The movie has a great gimmick in a freaky third act. Diary won't disappoint fans of Pang Bros. movies. Nice!

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Anticlimacus
Date: 04/10/2007
Summary: One of the Best

Charlene Choi is a schizophrenic woman obsessed with another man (played by Shawn Yue) in this film by director Oxide Pang. The condition of schizophrenia is given ample attention and the script is exceedingly well-written and complex. The visuals are dark with limited (yet effective) use of CGI to communicate important elements to the viewer. There are a lot of twists and turns within this originally structured storyline, but in the end they are all logical extensions when the film is studied and understood properly. This is one of the best horror films I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.

If Gillian Chung had her breakthrough performance in Beyond Our Ken (2004), then Charlene Choi has now officially had her breakthrough performance in Diary (2006). She’s practically unrecognizable from her previous roles. She’s psychologically fragile, obsessive, desperate, subtle, and very unstable. In other words, she’s fantastic.

The cinematography and settings are gorgeous, using a variety of techniques to create a dim, murky atmosphere. Some scenes are in black-and-white, while others are shot with restricted colors. The overall feel of the film reminded me of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s work, absent the ambient soundtrack – Oxide uses his trademark horror beats to great effect here. The limited CGI is very fantasy-like, which is interesting considering the fact that it occurs within an apartment. Basically, Diary is eye candy from minute one.

It is ironic that all of the great storytelling that was lacking from Re-Cycle (2006) has miraculously appeared in Diary. It’s almost as if the Pangs decided to sacrifice the former for the latter, because Diary simply could not be written more effectively. It acts like a mystery that slowly reveals itself until the very last frame. There is a significant focus on character perspective and subjectivity that ultimately provides the driving force.

Most of the reviews I’ve read have been positive. However, some have taken issue with the structure that Oxide chose to use. Needless to say, it’s wacked out and totally different than most movies. I don’t want to get too specific, but all I will say is that I thought the movie had ended a number of times before it actually did. Fortunately, all of those “extra” scenes were the best parts. I personally think that the critics are misguided, since the weird format works very well.

Let’s put it this way. I finished the film, cheered with joy, then immediately proceeded to go online and buy a copy.

Rating: A magnificent 5 out of 5.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: JohnR
Date: 03/31/2007
Summary: Charlene says, "I Can Too Act."

Written by the Pang brothers and directed by Oxide Pang, "Diary" tells the story of a delusional young woman from her point of view. William Faulkner in Hong Kong. It's a psychological profile, not a horror film, so don't come looking for Chuckie.

The less you know about the plot, the better, so I'm not going to go into it. This is one of those movie's that it's best to watch without knowing much about it.

The film is very slow paced, so you may need to exercise patience. It's very dark in places, too; there were scenes of several seconds in length in which I had no idea what I was looking at. I know the darkness of the setting was supposed to indicate the darkness of Winnie's soul, but I could have used a few less shadows.

A big surprise for a lot of people is going to be Charlene Choi's performance; she's asked to carry the entire movie and really responds well. Shawn Yu is on-screen about 50% of the time, but he only speaks a few lines. Isabella Leung's role, though essential to the plot, could be called a cameo. Charlene is on-screen 99% of the time, and there are several long scenes during which the camera never blinks where she's asked to portray her character's inner turmoil without speaking. She does it well. This movie was an incredible gamble for her; she's totally stepped out of her public image and her comfort zone and taken on a huge challenge. "Diary" calls for Charlene Choi to take the whole movie on her shoulders, its success is entirely dependent on how convincing she is as the psychotic Winnie. It succeeds.

Reviewer Score: 8