Our Time Will Come

Ann Hui’s Our Time Will Come is a World War II espionage drama, and it’s exactly what one might expect from the multi-award-winning filmmaker. That’s great for fans of Hui’s humanist concerns and low-key style, but moviegoers who fixate on certain signifiers (guns, spies, war) probably expect more bang for their buck. Those people might be disappointed, because this is not a wartime thriller, and is instead a marvelously detailed portrait of average people and how they cope with the dangerous times in which they live. Hui finds extraordinary drama and tension in He Jiping’s finely observed screenplay, and the everyday heroism on display is genuinely moving. At the same time, the film offers wry observations that entertainingly subvert expectations about life during wartime. This is an intelligent and subtle epic told in Ann Hui’s trademark style, and easily deserves mention alongside her other acclaimed works.

Taking place in Japanese-occupied Hong Kong in World War II, Our Time Will Come is a fact-based portrait of local resistance fighters and the struggle against their Japanese oppressors. The key protagonist is Fong Lan (Zhou Xun), a schoolteacher who becomes involved in espionage when gangster and freedom fighter Blackie Lau (Eddie Peng) arrives at her apartment complex to escort her neighbor, novelist and future Chinese official Mao Dun (Guo Tao), out of reach of the Japanese. Meanwhile, Lan’s estranged boyfriend Kam-wing (Wallace Huo) works for the Japanese military while quietly collaborating with the resistance. Impressed with her intelligence and demeanor, Blackie recruits Lan to the cause, but this opens up a larger world with even greater dangers to Lan and her mother Mrs. Fong (Deanie Ip), who obstinately instructs Lan to stay out of trouble.

What follows is a subdued, sometimes relaxed film that’s largely devoid of manipulative filmmaking. Eschewing commercial film technique when making a tense wartime drama seems counterintuitive, but Ann Hui succeeds handily because her situations are so detailed and incisive. Hui sets up her tension naturally by focusing on war’s effect on common people and their daily lives, and conflicts are built-up or defused in unexpected ways that feel true. Information smuggling becomes even more unnerving when the participants are victims of poor luck or their own inexperience. Events that would be portrayed romantically or histrionically in another filmmaker’s hands are quickly resolved or rendered anti-climactic. Also, crucial moments show that a heroic response is sometimes not possible. These are normal people who fight their oppressors in whatever way they can, and sometimes the struggle is insurmountable. Yet witnessing these everyday heroes fail, pick themselves up, and still find the resolve to move forward can be inspiring.

The lead actors range from sublime (Zhou Xun, Deanie Ip) to just OK (Wallace Huo), with Eddie Peng providing star presence as the charismatic if somewhat incongruous freedom fighter. Japanese actor Nagase Masatoshi impresses in a pivotal role as a Japanese military officer. Aside from Deanie Ip, the biggest names in Our Time Will Come are not from Hong Kong, which reflects the local film industry’s declining cachet across Asia. However, many Hong Kong actors are present in cameos or supporting roles, most notably Tony Leung Ka-fai, who appears in interview segments set in the present day. His scenes frame Our Time Will Come from the perspective of a local survivor of the war – a POV that speaks to Hong Kong’s resilient people and their activist spirit. In Our Time Will Come, their voices and experiences shine through splendidly.

Ann Hui

Born in Anshan in 1947, Ann Hui On-wah grew up in Hong Kong. She completed an MA in English and Comparative Literature before moving abroad to study at the London Film School in the early 1970s. After returning to Hong Kong and directing for the small screen, Hui made her first feature film, The Secret, in 1979. Among her best-known and most admired works are Boat People (1982), Summer Snow (1995), July Rhapsody (2001) and A Simple Life (2011).

FILMOGRAPHY

1980 – The Spooky Bunch
1982 – Boat People
1984 – Love in a Fallen City
1990 – Song of the Exile
1995 – Summer Snow
1999 – Ordinary Heroes
2001 – July Rhapsody
2008 – The Way We Are
2011 – A Simple Life 
2014 – The Golden Era
2017 – Our Time Will Come
Ross Chen (www.lovehkfilm.com)
Film director: Ann HUI
Year: 2017
Running time: 131'
Country: China & Hong Kong
21/04 - 1.00 PM
Teatro
21-04-2018 13:00 21-04-2018 15:11Europe/Rome Our Time Will Come Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine cec@cecudine.org
25/04 - 3.30 PM
Visionario
25-04-2018 15:30 25-04-2018 17:41Europe/Rome Our Time Will Come Far East Film Festival Visionario, Via Asquini 33CEC Udine cec@cecudine.org

Photogallery