Words by JULIETA LOCANE
Celebrating the role of women in the essentially male-dominated realm of filmmaking, the premiere of Bends, which was featured as part of the World of Women Film Festival program, at first seemed like an empowering, motivating event. Yet, braced for an epic foreign film powered by estrogen, this sense of euphoria slowly dwindled away as the film unfolded.
Directed by Flora Lau, Bends sees the development of two parallel narratives. On one hand we have the story of a wealthy Hong Kong housewife (Carina Lau) whose husband disappears, taking with him her sense of financial stability. On the other, we
have the narrative of her driver, Fai (Chen Kun), who, with a wife pregnant with their second child, desperately tries to evade the hardships that come with China’s One Child Policy. Distant as they may seem, these two narratives are seamlessly
intertwined by the shared presentation of the woman as an embodiment of fragility and total dependence on the male figure.
However, while the themes dealt with offer potential for further exploration, the film develops through a rather monotonous structure with minimal tempo alterations, which often fails to sustain collective viewer engagement. Although the film loses points in the narrative department, it sure as hell wins them back in its cinematographic efforts. The film is beautiful, as illustrated by a combination of low-lit extended still shots and hand-held camera coverage, which both accompanies and balances the tone of the film.
In this sense then, Bends is a little bit like a So Fresh CD; you have your average Joe tracks that no-one likes (sorry, Lee Harding, I don’t want no Wasabi thanks), but you also have the heaps groovy tunes which, although rarely found, make the CD
somewhat pleasant (Casey Donovan, wadduppp?).