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Initially spiked (and admittedly concluding) with a rich undercurrent of good old-fashioned ya-ya sisterhood that raises expectations, Hong Kong screenwriter Luk Yee-sum’s feature directorial debut Lazy Hazy Crazy gives a singularly feminine voice to fidelity and sex in a landscape where men usually do the honors. Though Luk’s gauzy accessibility is a welcome change of pace in many respects, the film ultimately reveals itself to be a rote if fleetingly compelling coming-of-age drama that coasts on a veneer of realism in its explorations of friendship and sexuality. The drama, which also dabbles in a smattering of semi-explicit situations designed to give the film a raw, shocking edge (if women discuss oral sex is still shocking), is unlikely to travel far beyond Asia unless it’s on the festival circuit, but that should also give it a healthy lifespan.
Based on her stronger, more focused work with Hong Kong indie darling Pang Ho-cheung on films like Vulgaria and Love in the Buff — Pang and his partner at Making Pictures Subi Liang serve as producers here — Luk’s HAF project dances on the border between baffling and brave in light of some of the strangest representations of female friendship in recent memory, representations that flirt with male gaze-type objectification, just without the irony (unless it’s so deeply buried it’s invisible). Lazy revels in its bubble baths and experimental lesbianism, yet ties the characters’ growth to how they relate to men rather than to themselves or each other — or as a filter for it. Either way it sets a curious tone.
As the school year comes to an end, three friends in their late teens, bookish and virginal Tracy (Kwok Yik-sum), worldly part-time prostitute Chloe (Mak Tsz-yi) and Malaysian transplant and fellow prostitute Alice (Fish Liew), spend the summer rooming together. Tracy has a falling out with her strict grandmother, Alice is on her own after her father’s abandonment and Chloe just wants the freedom. Alice is technically the third wheel, befriended by the two childhood friends after a bullying incident at school. However, it’s Tracy who winds up the outsider when Alice and Chloe, due to their shared “compensated dating” activities quickly form a tight bond. Into these roiling emotional waters come Andrew (Tse Sit-chun), the school’s resident jock and object of desire for all three girls, and Raymond (Gregory Wong), a hostess bar patron with a heart of gold who shows Tracy the sexual ropes (Summer Lovers, but in Hong Kong’s outlying Lam Tsuen area). Tracy’s misguided hope is that her newfound knowledge will help her reconnect with Chloe.
Despite its (at times) conflicting tone Luk nonetheless manages some astute observations about young women’s sexuality and the fraught period of time between becoming a sexual person and finding one’s erotic groove. The film is also smart and somewhat blunt in its perceptions of how simultaneously fragile and unshakeable bonds between women can be — even if in realty things rarely reach the level of helping out with “lost” hygiene products. The trio of actresses does have an easy rapport that flits over all the nuances that make maturing in unison both complicated and comforting: the casual, oblivious brush-offs, the impulsive decisions designed to hurt, the unreasonable envy.
If the performances tip over the edge into (poorly executed) histrionics and unconvincing tears by the relatively unknown cast they can be forgiven for the fundamental relatability the actresses bring to their roles. Fortunately Luk manages to pull all three back down to earth and into the film’s more realist tone when things do get out of hand, and Liew is particularly notable as the damaged, cynical Alice, who bears the burden of a nickname too vulgar to reprint in a respectable medium. The film’s biggest flaw, ironically, may be a screenplay that’s too ambitious for the modest character-driven story at its core, and reconciliation is a bit too pat. But Jam Yau’s intimate cinematography and an unobtrusive, evocative score by Alan Wong and Janet Yung help realize the alien familiarity of young women of the verge of everything.
Production company: Sun Entertainment Culture
Cast: Kwok Yik-sum, Fish Liew, Mak Tsz-yi, Tse Sit-chun, Gregory Wong, Susan Shaw
Director: Luk Yee-sum
Screenwriter: Luk Yee-sum
Producer: Subi Liang, Pang Ho-cheung
Director of photography: Jam Yau
Production designer: Man Lim-chung
Editor: Wenders Li
Music: Alan Wong, Janet Yung
World sales: Bravos Pictures
No rating, 100 minutes
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