White Mulberry Award for First Time Director Nominee
JUST 1 DAY
給我1天 (Kap Ngoh Yat Tin)
Hong Kong, 2021, 98’, Cantonese
Directed by: Erica Li
Script: Erica Li
Photography (color): Christopher Doyle
Editing: Azrael Chung
Art Direction: Pong Sze-ho
Music: Patrick Leung
Producers: Herman Yau, Jason Siu
Cast: Charlene Choi (Angelfish), Wong Cho-lam (Mosaic), Kenny Wong (Mr Wong), Eric Kwok (Ken), Leung Ka-ki (Cherry), Kathy Yuen (Joyce), Sunny Chan (Paul Lau), Tang Shu-wing (Mr Cheng)
Date of First Release in Territory: March 7th, 2021
Long-time screenwriter Erica Li joins the ranks of Hong Kong’s new wave of emerging directors with JUST 1 DAY, a tender story of fleeting romance with a strong local vibe.
When bank staffer Angelfish (Charlene Choi) goes back to her old school for an alumni party, she runs into urban sketch artist Mosaic (Wong Cho-lam). He’s still harbouring a crush on her, and he doesn’t miss the opportunity to drive her home. While he’s initially disappointed to find out that she’s in a relationship, her affair with a taken man is actually about to fall apart. And later on an opportunity arises for them to be together amid difficult circumstances.
One day Mosaic walks into Angelfish’s bank with a proposition. Having seen his father afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Mosaic knows what should be in store for him with the disease too, so he asks if his school-days “goddess” would be his girlfriend for a day before things turn bad. When she agrees, he has a list of surprise activities drawn up for a date – actually his first – to be held from sunrise to midnight. Some of the to-do items are tacky and clichéd (and the pair admit it), but others touch the heart as the day unfolds and the date extends to the next sunrise. Angelfish may not know it at the time, but she has just fulfilled a long-held dream of her own, and the seeds are planted for a deep friendship that could change her own path in life.
Working with frequent collaborator Herman Yau, who serves as co-producer, as well as celebrated cinematographer Christopher Doyle, Erica Li once again translates her own work as a novelist into a screenplay, and the result offers an affecting big-screen tale of romance developing against the odds. Mosaic presents a complex yet somewhat naive character, having become devoted to art while steering clear of a love life for fear of burdening a partner, and dwelling for years on small school incidents, while Angelfish and her circle of friends bring in wider relationship material. The two lead actors make for a likeable screen couple in their chaste pairing, with Wong Cho-lam in particular offering a diverse performance that in lighter moments runs from jokes about his small stature to sharing his feelings through art and song.
Beyond the central relationship drama, Li drops in thoughts on cheating, materialism and whether money can buy happiness. But a far bigger undercurrent is found in the way she reflects nostalgia and the changing city. From early on, characters lament the destruction of landmarks and ask why Hong Kong can’t preserve its built heritage more. The walls of Mosaic’s home are dotted with references to disappearing sights, and when he picks a movie for the big date, he chooses local to support Hong Kong cinema. Also striking is the use of models of old Hong Kong – scenes of the city in miniature that recreate tiny details with immense care – both as the plot progresses and in the end credits. Cinemagoers seeking a sensitive romance picture could find JUST 1 DAY hits the right notes, but the film’s great love for Hong Kong can leave a strong impression too.
Erica Li entered the Hong Kong film industry in the 1990s as a screenwriter and has penned scripts for films including Stephen Chow’s King of Comedy (1999) and several key works by director Herman Yau, including The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake (2011), Ip Man – The Final Fight (2013) and Shock Wave (2017). Li, who studied journalism and communications at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and later film in Canada, is also known for being a member of the 1980s pop duo Paradox and for her work as a lyricist and as a novelist. She made her directing debut with JUST 1 DAY (2021).
2021 – JUST 1 DAY