Developed from a short film of the same name, director and writer, Quek Shio Chuan‘s Guang is a simple and elegant debut feature film about the tense yet loving relationship between brothers Wen Guang (Kyo Chen) and Didi (Ernest Chong) amidst living as working class citizens in Kuala Lumpur. This review is spoiler-free.
Brotherhood And The Unemployment Crisis
The primary theme of the film is the passion (which is almost obsessive) to musical notes and frequencies of the titular character, Guang as he collects wine glasses and bowls for a discreet project but what drove the plot forward is the search for employment to ensure that the autistic Guang could be independent.
Living in a small flat with his younger brother Didi, these siblings have a rocky bond much like a roller-coaster ride that is endless especially when Didi is desperate for his older brother to secure a proper job. This was the major concern since this not only describes the financial background of these brothers but it also fuels how Didi treats Guang who requires some aid considering his condition.
Didi’s temper is directly influenced by his brother’s ability to be responsible for himself and this also reflects their relationship dominated by Didi which slowly (and gradually) transfigures when Guang begins his venture of going to thrift shops and scouting in unusual places for glasses that he described as professing specific sounds.
The Symbolism of Visuals and Music
The prominent directorial style of Quek Shio Chuan is the use of symbolism in the film’s cinematography (nominated for Best New Cinematography at 13th Chinese Youth Generation Film Forum) with a single uninterrupted shot from the film’s critical scene at a pub to showcase Didi’s impatience and even determination and the push back of the camera to widen shots of emptiness that can be seen from the shot of an abandoned and dirty fish aquarium during the climax.
Every scene, colour, light and music in the background seem to have a purpose to the story; from the beautiful sequence of shattered glass with a melancholic but loud tune as the soundtrack to the hazy and blurry effect of the flash back scenes that is similar to a recollection of a faraway childhood memory. Guang even though gratifies the music as the mission of its main character and as the director’s muse, the film takes into account all the aspects that comes together as a wholesome movie to a rather schematic premise.
Pitch Perfect Performances
With a small cast, the film is dependent on the delivery of the main actors’ performances especially the chemistry between Ernest Chong and Kyo Chen as they portray the affection and even the humourous teasing that comes from being brothers. The lone actress, Emily Chan plays the rather charming, Sue Ann who could have been stereotyped as just a love interest but she held a stance that she was not a damsel but have an impactful and memorable role to the film.
The very scene that unleashes the stirring talent of Ernest and Kyo was in a noteworthy clash between the characters before the peak of the storyline that must be credited to the dialogue written by the director, Ismail Kamarul and Al Kuan. It should also be highlighted that performer, Kyo engaged in a workshop with the director’s brother whom the film is loosely based on and it’s undeniable that having to play a character who is inspired by a real person can be a feat.
Quek Shio Chuan may be a young filmmaker in the local and international scene however, Guang is a well-crafted debut that goes beyond the telling of the intimate struggles of a familial relationship. The plot presents a platform that questions on the issue of the treatment towards people of different abilities especially in the working environment and further mirrors the society’s approach on the matter.
Guang is in cinemas now.
Featured Image source: cinema.com.