- Ma plays a salesman who leads a solitary life and lives in hope of seeing his mother, long estranged; a visit to a psychiatrist reveals all is not as it seems
- This is a film that will divide viewers: some will find it cloying, while others will appreciate it for conveying the tortured thoughts of someone grieving
For the uninitiated viewer who knows only that this is a semi-autobiographical film, the first question to ask Steven Ma Chun-wai after watching it is surely, "Are you really OK?". Inspired by the actor, co-screenwriter, director and producer's own experience of getting over his mother's death, Till We Meet Again is a much darker psychodrama than might have been expected from the veteran TV actor.
Electronics store salesman Ng Ka-wai (played by Ma) leads a solitary life, harbouring the hope that he will one day see his loving mother Mui (Josephine Ku Mei-wah) again; she has apparently been avoiding her son for well over a decade. While Ng does occasionally meet his father, a retired bus driver, he preserves his sanity mostly through chatting with his seemingly ever-present buddy Chi (Himmy Wong Ting-him).
A visit to his psychiatrist, Tracy (Jennifer Yu Heung-ying) " who has family issues of her own " reveals that Ng is suffering from depression and panic disorder, as well as the inconvenient truth that his mother has long been dead. From there, Till We Meet Again dissolves into flashbacks to when Mui was dying from cancer and Ng was helpless to reverse her fortune.
Based on a story that spawned a stage production in Hong Kong earlier this year, Ma's film relies heavily on the audience's susceptibility. Some will see it as a dreadfully boring and relentlessly cloying depiction of mental illness, without much of a plot or any character development. Others will appreciate the film for capturing the chaotic and convoluted thought processes of someone deep in grief.
A third act that reveals the unusual identity of one of the main characters borders on the sensational " though clear-minded viewers will have seen the twist coming almost from the start.
The many scenes in Till We Meet Again where characters either dead or imagined meet up are far more disturbing than they first appear, as they indicate the true severity of Ng's mental illness.
A popular actor in TVB drama series, Ma is known more for his clean-shaven image than his acting prowess. Here, he gives a respectable performance as a troubled mental patient, while extracting a quietly touching turn from Ku, recently seen in Missing but cast far too infrequently over the years for someone of her calibre.
If nothing else, Till We Meet Again provides a rare big-screen showcase for both.
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