Written and directed by Kelvin Shum, the 2022 drama Deliverance stars Simon Yam, Summer Chan, Roy Ng, Justin Cheug and Tim Wong. The film chronicles the tumultuous journey of five siblings who try to reunite after their mother’s passing fifteen years ago.
15 years have passed since Nicole (Summer Chan) lost her mother due to ill-health. Striving to make a fresh start, Nicole returns home to Hong Kong, reuniting with her three brothers. Clinging onto the shattered memory from the night of her mother’s passing, Nicole and her brothers will open past wounds as the trauma of the past seeks to rip them apart once more. Through hypnosis sessions with her big brother Joseph (Simon Yam), the trauma that the family sustained will reawaken once more, leaving Nicole and her brothers scrambling to find some sort of closure to a wound that continues to weigh them down.
There is so much to unpack in the film but what instantly clicks is the relationship between the siblings and how far they are willing to go for each other. This is where the script by Kelvin and Kyle Shum comes into play. The writers have not only nailed the intricacies of how siblings grow up, but they have also ensured that every aspect of the story progresses naturally. We instantly fall in love with the characters the moment they are introduced, and this speaks volumes about the writer/director’s ability to develop heartfelt characters that speak to audiences.
Exploration of trauma is a recurrent theme in modern filmmaking, but the way Shum approaches the subject matter is ingenious, to say the least. The persistent presence of trauma across time as it damages relationships is explored and so is the poison of leaving emotions unresolved. Characters drift apart, become aloof and indifferent (as it happens in real life), and Shum then brings them together organically.
While most films only exhibit superficial allusions of family drama, Shum’s work goes into the nitty gritty and in this process, weaves a beautiful portrait of family issues in Hong Kong. Knowingly or unknowingly, Shum has created a cultural masterpiece, one that both celebrates and critiques the Asian family life and the economic and societal issues that Asian families must deal with.
Another important aspect of the film is how it emphasises on the role of a mother. In Asian culture, the mother is the centre of the household and her love and labour make the home a place of peace and serenity. By centring the narrative on the untimely passing of this family anchor, Shum plays tribute to all the mothers out there and how their important role not only brings the whole family together but has the potential to push them apart as well.
The acting is fantastic across the board. From the child actors who play the four siblings to their older counterparts, each character is carefully developed. Not only do their journeys come full circle but also the final moments of the film bring them together as animosity and indifference finally give way to forgiveness and love. Shum’s script contains plenty of emotional scenes and the cast manages to deliver on the nuances of the script effortlessly.
The drama-heavy script is therefore one of the highlights of the entire production and it manages to bring out the best of the actors.
Furthermore, one of the best things about Deliverance is how stunning it looks visually. From perfectly framed images of daily life in Hong Kong to the dimly lit living rooms, everything feels authentic and original. Shum also plays with colours in the film; using colours to dive into the psychological trauma of the characters and in the process, advancing the narrative through the visual medium effortlessly. It is a treat to see all this unfold on the screen as this kaleidoscope of colours unfolds in the most beautiful way imaginable.
From a technical standpoint, one thing that stands out is the editing and how it keeps the narrative billowing forward. Utilising a variety of tools such as time jumps to tell the story, the editing and narrative pacing is spot-on, ensuring that the film never drags, not even during its most quiet moments.
To sum up, Deliverance (2022) is a tour de force in family drama, trauma management and the eternal expectations of hope. The film will not only impress you, but it will also make you cry, reminisce and ultimately help you let go of whatever has been holding you back. Kelvin Shum has taken a terrific picture, one that is worthy of praise and accolades not only due to its perfect handling of a sensitive subject but also because it hits you close to the heart. This one is a winner, and we see it winning several accolades soon.
Blue, yellow, green and red, through these four colors coupled with the psychological characteristics of each stage of the memory, we dive into this world of color to explore.
Ambiguity, the ambiguity of love within the mad world we live in. The word ‘love’ itself is incredibly subjective. And for people in different circumstances within love , there is a whole bunch of different kinds of definitions.
In this film, love is expressed through different languages and by different means. A struggling family traumatized by their past explores this ambiguity of love. Will they be able to define it?
How is the meaning of ‘love’ itself limited?
The film has no villains or heroes. It is, rather, a poetic journey wherein the term ‘love’ is pondered and explored.
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