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l (2006)
After This Our Exile

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 10/14/2008
Summary: finely crafted, deeply emotional

A movie star becomes a film actor in a finely crafted, deeply emotional drama. After This Our Exile is amazing piece of cinema from writer, editor, and director Patrick Tam. Aaron Kwok gives the performance of his career surrounded by a talented troupe of supporting players especially Kelly Lin and Qin Hailu. Hard luck gambler and short order cook, Chow [Kwok] is forgetting to take care of his homework. When his neglected wife [Charlie Yeung] takes flight, he is left to his pathetic designs to strike it rich while the bookies are trying to collect. Meanwhile, his devoted son [Gow Ian Iskander] catches the short end all around town. The film is beautiful to behold. Veteran cinematographer Mark Lee catches the light of the countryside in an awarding-winning manner.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 04/22/2007
Summary: tam's return...

boy (ian gow) lives with his mother (charlie yeung) and father (aaron kwok). his mother spends her time at home, struggling to raise boy, his father is a short-tempered gambler who neglects his paternal duties and his partner. when boy's mother leaves, to marry her lover, boy and his father flee from gambling debts and set up home in a dingy hotel. short of money, work and ideas, boy's father pushes him to steal, so they can afford to pay their rent...

patrick tam's return, after his own (self-imposed) eighteen year exile from the director's chair, has been very well received. having already carried off golden horse (taiwan) and tokyo international film festival awards, 'after this, our exile' has just picked up five hong kong film awards. tam, who wrote, directed and edited the film, collected the 'best screenplay', 'best director' and 'best film' awards, whilst ian gow was awarded with 'best newcomer' and 'best supporting-actor' plaudits.

so, is this praise deserved? well, in my opinion, yes it it. 'after this, our exile' is a naturalistic, down-beat drama, rich in character and emotion; ian gow makes an excellent debut, whilst aaron kwok puts in the performance that cements his transformation from pop star to actor. behind the camera, tam coaxes rich, understated performances from all involved, whilst allowing the narrative to gently build up a picture of a family's descent into ruin.

great stuff. i'll have to seek out the extended director's cut...

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 03/24/2007

The most critically acclaimed Hong Kong movie of 2006 -- already winning three of Taiwan's Golden Horse awards, including best picture, and garnering five nominations from the upcoming Hong Kong Film Awards -- After This Our Exile proves irrefutably one thing: Aaron Kwok can actually act. Yeah, that Aaron Kwok, best known for schmaltzy pop songs and a horrible fashion sense. Seriously.

Levity aside, After This Our Exile is a dark look into relationships. This isn't up to the Wong Kar-Wai stage on the depress-o-meter, but it's certainly very far removed from the brainless "popcorn" films Kwok is usually asscoiated with.

That may be a huge blow to his teenybopper fanbase, but to any halfway serious HK film fan, it's a breath of fresh air. It's really refreshing seeing a film-maker take a mature approach, instead of the pablum geared for the MTV crowd for too many of them have been pumping out in recent years.

The film centers around a couple, Shing (Kwok) and Lin (Charlie Yeung), who have been sticking together depsite Shing's gambling problem for the sake of their son, Lok-Yun (Goum Ian Iskandar). However, after years of abuse, Lin runs off to marry her lover, leaving Shing and Lok-Yun feeling wounded. Not only that, but Shing's gambling debts soon leave them holed up in a fleabag motel, where they must turn to crime to pay the bills.

This could be Lifetime movie of the week drivel here, but the performances make everything much more believeable. Charlie Yeung is outstanding and heartbreaking as the battered wife, but special note must be made of Goum Ian Iskandar.

Normally, child actors drive me insane, but his performance here is one of the best I saw in a movie from 2006, by adult or child, from anywhere in the world. Apparently, the local critics agree, as he has won a Golden Horse award and is nominated for a Hong Kong Film Award for his work here.

And, again, where the hell has Aaron Kwok's acting talent been hiding all these years? There are entire movies of his where he doesn't even bat an eyelash, but he runs the full gamut of emotions here, and does so very effectively.

Perhaps, like Andy Lau before him, Kwok realizes that he's getting up there in years and simply can't survive on just his good looks anymore. At any rate, I hope this marks the start of a new phase in Kwok's career.

After This Our Exile isn't the type of movie this site normally covers, but it is so solid that it deserves your attention. If your Hong Kong movie diet just consists of kung fu and gunplay, do yourself a favor and check this movie out. It's definitely one of the better movies to come out of Hong Kong in 2006.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 7