My Prince Edward
t.l. Il mio Principe Edward
金都 (Gam Dou)
Hong Kong, 2019, 93’, Cantonese
Directed by: Norris Wong
Script: Norris Wong
Photography (color): Alfred Pong
Editing: Peter Chung
Art Direction: Billy Li
Music: Eman Lam
Producers: Chan Hing-kai, O Sing-pui
Cast: Stephy Tang (Cheung Lei-fong), Chu Pak-hong (Edward Yan), Nina Paw (Mrs Yan), Jin Kaijie (Yang Shuwei), Eman Lam (Yee), Hui So-ying (Mrs Chan), Kaki Shum (Keung), Yem Yuen (Mabel), Kenneth Bi (landlord), Cecilia Wang (Xiaomei)
Date of First Release in Territory: November 17th, 2019
Premiere status: European Premiere
Offbeat relationship drama, light comedy and gentle approaches to social topics make for an intriguing package in Norris Wong’s My Prince Edward, one of Hong Kong cinema’s most assured feature-directing debuts of recent years.
The story is centred on the usually crowded Prince Edward district, where Hong Kong couples head to the Golden Plaza shopping mall for all their wedding needs – from dress rental and photo services to car hire and more. Fong (Stephy Tang) and her slacker boyfriend Edward (Chu Pak-hong) not only work in the mall, but live in a small flat above it too, and their relationship isn’t running all that smoothly.
Edward is possessive and prone to being a mummy’s boy, and he has been slow off the mark in proposing to Fong. But once he finally gets around to asking her to wed, a major snag has emerged: Fong secretly took up a sham marriage with a mainlander for cash a decade earlier, and not only does she now realise that she’s still married, but that she must be labelled as divorced on any future marriage certificate. Eventually Fong’s bogus husband Yang Shuwei (Jin Kaijie) makes an appearance, but quietly splitting up with him isn’t so simple. He still needs to finalise the drawn-out process of getting a one-way permit to live in Hong Kong – the whole point of his marriage to Fong to begin with – and things risk getting awfully complicated should Edward find out.
The setup in My Prince Edward is a novel one, and Norris Wong lets the scenario unfold with a pleasingly unforced approach, deftly balancing its domestic tensions, humour and highly local flavour. Edward offers some easy laughs but also a more sinister edge, while Fong largely carries the weightier relationship material. The introduction of hubby Yang Shuwei meanwhile draws Hong Kong-mainland ties into the equation, enlivening the story with light banter about freedoms and dreams as well as reflecting elements of cross-boundary mistrust. Yang in particular comes across as a modern, free-thinking and worldly figure, in stark contrast to how Fong and Edward have traipsed through life in their little part of town. Eventually, Wong breaks Fong out of her bubble and opens up the picture – giving the story space to breathe when Fong comes to grips with her predicament and questions marriage itself.
As Fong moves from passively drifting to finding her way, actress Stephy Tang clocks up another strong performance for her resume. My Prince Edward sees Tang continue the run of quality productions that have set her apart in recent years as a strong player in Hong Kong’s smaller, locally focused films. Chu Pak-hong and Jin Kaijie, playing the men in her life, deliver similarly attractive work and a strong range of supporting actors include veterans Nina Paw and Hui So-ying.
Unfortunately, My Prince Edward’s fine performances and its other charms couldn’t grab a wider audience as scheduled earlier this year when the coronavirus crisis saw movie houses close down before the film’s full release happened. But an impressive list of eight nominations for May’s Hong Kong Film Awards – and eventually two wins including Best New Director – meant My Prince Edward could at least drum up plenty of attention from its city’s cinema-starved public.
Norris Wong received her MFA in Film Production from Hong Kong Baptist University. She has published novels and an essay collection and has been a lyricist for Warner Music, in addition to being a writer and director for short films and TV. Her Fresh Wave short film Fall played Udine in 2014. Wong made her feature directing debut with My Prince Edward (2019), which was awarded its production funding under the First Feature Film Initiative.
2019 – My Prince Edward