The Prodigal's Return
Dir: Wong Toi
Scr: Chan Wan
Cast: Wong Oi-ming, Patrick Lung Kong, Ha Wai, Mak Kay
1958 / B&W / D Beta / Cantonese / 91min
The film opens on the bustling streets of 1950s Hong Kong in a scene that pits street vices against family values, the former represented by Ko Lo Chuen’s character and his drug peddlers who tempt the weak-minded into sin, the latter by Chan’s mother, wife and daughter who preach and practise acceptance and repentance. The young daughter, played by Wong Oi-ming, holds the key to the father’s redemption, spinning a narrative thread from the point of view of a child which invests the plot with a moral, edifying significance. The brilliance of her performance is in the subtlety. From initially a shadowy presence by her mother to a silent witness to her father’s degradation, the child star displayed a sophisticated range of emotion that drives the plot – crafted with fine details for dramatic twists and turns – to its climatic resolution, which comes complete with an ingenious surprise.
||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive
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