This certainly isn’t like your typical Hong Kong movie.

When I think about films from Hong Kong, usually I think of martial arts films like the old Shaw Brothers films or a Jackie Chan action picture. Now I am not saying that is all they make there, but traditionally this is the sort of film that you’d see imported here into the States. However, Ho-Cheung Pang’s recent film, Aberdeen, is absolutely nothing like what I expected and it’s a film that surprised me by its style.

Aberdeen consists of several different stories that concern extended family members—though it takes you a while to realize that the folks you keep seeing are related. Additionally, exactly WHAT the film is about is very difficult to say—even after the movie is complete! This vagueness will no doubt bother some viewers and various interpretations of what it all means are very possible.
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The film concerns two sets of adult children of a grandfather. One story is about a woman who is obsessed with the notion that her mother, who has been dead for a decade, didn’t really love her—though there really is no way to know for sure. In fact, she’s so caught up with this that she doesn’t realize that her husband is being unfaithful to her. Another story is about an aging model who wants to make it in films. However, her husband has an obsession—that their young daughter is not his. He behaves as if he loves her, but is obsessed that she is ugly, unlike him and his wife. I thought the child was adorable…but, I was not this weird man. As for the little girl, she has a bit of an obsession…about her dead lizard and its need to go to Heaven.

So, is all this worth seeing? Well, the acting is very nice and the direction quite good though quite slow paced. However, as for the story, it left me pretty cold. I am not sure how much meaning or significance there is to all this or if I even cared much about this. Mostly, I think, it’s because I didn’t care all that much about many of the characters. Had I felt a connection, surely I would have enjoyed it much more.

Martin’s Grade: C+

by Martin Hafer