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September 04, 2020

My Prince Edward


Norris Wong Yee-Lam - 2019
Cheng Cheng Films

Even if it was not that good a film, My Prince Edward is refreshing as a true Hong Kong film, rather than a bombastic production financed by mainland Chinese studios. The good news is that Norris Wong's debut as a writer/director is as worthy of acclaim as has been indicated by earlier critical reviews as well as award recognition.

The title alone has multiple meanings, first as the primary location in Kowloon, Hong Kong where most of the film takes place, an area known for its bridal shops. Prince Edward refers to the British royal who abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson. Mostly taking place in a bridal shop and the apartment right above the shop in the Prince Edward section, Fong must decide if her co-worker and lover, Edward, is really her prince.

Nothing is easy for Fong as she navigates between the conflicts of contemporary attitudes against traditional expectations regarding love and marriage. At the heart of this conflict is whether she should reveal to Edward that she has been previously married, and the divorce she seeks is delayed due to government red tape as well as a husband who has seemingly disappeared. Wong also touches on the ideas of personal freedom as well as the cost and status of getting a new apartment in Hong Kong. Some aspects of the film may be lost on viewers unfamiliar with some aspects of life in Hong Kong as well as Hong Kong's relationship with mainland China at the time the film was made. The film is primarily in Cantonese with a pointed scene involving mainland bureaucracy that is partially in Mandarin.

In addition to the thematic references in the title, there is the apartment that Fong and Edward share, notable for a couple of movie posters in the background. Edward is the bridal shop's in-house videographer, always attempting to make videos that show an idealized version of the newlyweds. The two posters in the apartment are from films that are centered on more problematic relationships, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Rebecca. Unlike in Gondry's film, Fong is unable to fully erase either her husband or Edward from her life. A possible loose interpretation with a twist would be Fong's entering into a second marriage with a man whose home is subject to the constant interference of his mother, somewhat as Mrs. Danvers dominates the home of Maxim de Winter. When not shooting videos, Edward plays video games, indicative of a situation where he has greater control.

As a modestly budgeted film, Stephy Tang is the most familiar name in the role of Fong. Starting out as a Cantopop star, Tang has evolved into a serious and award winning actress now in her mid-Thirties. The cinematography by Pong Ho-Wai at times evokes the documentary feel of some of the more classic American independent films. The film is also abetted by Eman Lam's piano dominated score. Providing significant assistance to Ms. Wong was the final editing done in conjunction with Wong Car-Wai collaborator William Chang. My Prince Edward is currently making the rounds in various film festivals in the U.S. Check the individual festival sites for concurrent streaming on their affiliated platforms.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at September 4, 2020 05:20 AM