‘The Narrow Road’ Film Review: Edinburgh – Deadline

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A cleaning lady and her young neighbor form an unusual bond in The narrow road, a drama set in Hong Kong which had its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Director Lam Sum paints a vivid picture of the life of the city’s low-paid workers, deftly incorporating elements of the Covid pandemic, which hit before filming began.

Louis Cheung plays Chak, a hardworking man who runs a small but successful cleaning business serving local businesses and homes. His neighbor Candy (Angela Yuen) struggles to support her seven-year-old daughter and begs Chak for a job.

Although she’s not a natural at cleaning – which is teased for sweet comedy value – Candy helps Chak just enough to keep the gig going, although it helps that she has an incredibly cute daughter (if there is one). such a thing as a Manic Pixie Dream Kid, that is). The three gradually develop a friendship that borders on codependency, but Candy’s moral compass is a frequent challenge for Chak, even though he was born out of desperation.

As her name suggests, Candy is a colorful character who sports an eye-catching array of likely shoplifted clothing. She’s impulsive, funny, and more like her child’s irresponsible best friend than her mother: the child smears stolen lipstick on her face while left home alone.

Candy is attracted enough not to fall for the Manic Pixie trap, nor is she particularly sexualized, although there is a feeling that she and Chak are on the verge of a potential romance. The will-they-won’t-they question seems a bit dragged on during the final sequences, but it’s an engaging set-up, made more dramatic by a subplot involving a shortage of detergent during the Crisis.

Poignant footage from the pandemic underscores the struggles of these characters, and that of Chak’s mother, who isolates herself in her small apartment, hanging flimsy disposable masks to dry in her kitchen. While there’s a levity to most of these scenes, there’s one with no room for levity that leaves an indelible impact. It helps to make The narrow road a thought-provoking insight into Hong Kong’s lockdown life, with terrific performances and a tangible atmosphere.

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