Keeping Watch

Bottom Line: A takeoff on Jekyll and Hyde minus the evil.

Deauville Asian Film Festival 2008

DEAUVILLE, France -- Fen Fen Cheng's "Keeping Watch" has certainly been inspired by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but minus the evil quotient. Known for her stylized prose, Cheng twists a seemingly ordinary story into a dramatic affair. A trifle complex and many layered, the film may appeal better to festival audiences rather than ticket-paying viewers.

Ching (Haden Kuo) watches over her family owned clock shop, where the ticking of the machines is as humdrum as her own boring existence. One afternoon, Han (Joseph Chang) walks into the shop claiming to be her once-upon-a-time high school classmate. Ching certainly does not remember him, but, nonetheless, falls in love with him. However, when he suddenly vanishes, Ching meets Han's parents -- after finding out their address from her school yearbook -- who tell her that their son had been dead for years.

Cheng paints a deeply mysterious canvas that could have been crisper and perhaps more easily understandable had only the film been edited better. The performances make up for this shortcoming with both Kuo and Chang playing their parts splendidly.

Chang is almost perfect in a role that demands personality changes and conflicts. Kuo, as the sales girl at the corner shop, essays the dilemma of one torn by the conflicting characters and images of the man she loves.

Joint Entertainment International
International Sales: Ventes Internationals
Writer/director: Fen Fen Cheng
Producer: James C.Liu
Director of photography: Adili Chen
Art designer: Chien-Jung Huang
Music: Danny Liang
Costume designer: Wan-Huan Li
Editors: Anderson Chen and Belle Wong
Ching: Haden Kuo
Han: Joseph Chang
Running time -- 92 minutes
No MPAA rating