“Guang” (光), a movie inspired by the real-life experiences of director Quek Shio Chuan (郭修篆) was emotive and thought-provoking. Tears welled up in me naturally and my thoughts raced fiercely. I stole glances at my wife and two children. Emotions were erupting in us as we saw glimpses of our family in the movie.
“My brother is autistic, not a moron.”
A powerful movie
When the movie ended, my 13-year-old son Conan told me discreetly, “Mom was tearing the whole time.” I felt a need to have a family conversation, but I knew it was not the right time. Turning to a chat-group of families with special needs children on my phone, it was obvious that every parent who had watched the movie shared similar sentiments. That was how impactful the movie “Guang” was!
The movie “Guang” was premiered in November 2018 in Malaysia, and is released from 14 March onwards in Singapore. This beautifully-crafted feature film has received four nominations at the prestigious “The 21st Shanghai International Film Festival” slated for June 2019, and it has also been chosen to compete at the Fukuoka Film Festival in Japan later this year. It is a matter of time that the movie will win more accolades.
“Hi, my name is Wen Guang. I am 27 years old this year. I am friendly, approachable and helpful. Sometimes I may look strange to you, but I hope you understand. I have ASD (autistic spectrum disorder).”
An autistic young man is filled with a single-minded zeal to search for glasses and bowls that produce a repertoire of music notes. His brother, however, is desperate to find him a job to fend for himself. Just when it seems that the irreconcilable differences between the two siblings can never be fixed, they found an answer to their problems.
Quek tells a story of how a desperate brother, Di-Di’s (Ernest Chong，张顺源) attempts to secure a job for his autistic elder brother, Guang (Kyo Chen，庄仲维) were thwarted by the latter’s obsession to collect glasses and bowls. Using intersecting plotlines driven by the two characters, Quek skilfully pulls on the heartstrings of his audience as the siblings’ interests collided and their conflicts heightened to a climax, yet he succeeded to bring the story to a thoughtful ending.
Ernest and Kyo delivered a splendid performance of siblings’ affection and conflict. I was warmed by the chemistry between the brothers. And my heart pained when Di-Di scorned and beat his autistic elder brother in exasperation. Another memorable character is Su-en (Emily Chan, 陈子颖) who brought light moments as the kind-hearted girl next door who befriended Guang and lent him a listening ear. Even the supporting actors like the ones who played the roles of Di-Di’s supportive friend, Tony and the prospective employer of a café who rejected Guang’s job application were convincing in their portrayal.
I was almost in disbelief to find out later that this is Quek’s debut movie, given his masterful use of cinematography. Faint flashbacks of the protagonist’s childhood memories; a microscopic shot of gushing water in the inner tube of an ordinary water pump and the sound and light on glasses and bowls. All these imagery lend credence to explaining how the protagonist Guang developed an obsession to embark on his secret odyssey.
On top of these, scenes are laden with familiar symbols such as old streets, spinning bicycle wheels and shattered glass. Colours, lights and sounds also work harmoniously as the plot thickens. To the satisfaction of audience, Quek delivered a breath-taking scene that demonstrated Guang’s brilliance beyond expectations.
Walk Your Own Path
Just when I thought that all surprises were over, the movie ended with the soulful voice of a singer, SHIO (郭修彧) who also composed a melancholic melody and penned a heart-rending lyric with a chorus verse that kept ringing in my ears,
“You are not a freak.
Don’t be afraid that anyone may bully you.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to live your happiness.
You have your own path.
And you walk with no regrets.”
你不是怪物 别害怕 谁来欺负
你走你的路 走一个 没有遗憾的路
The next day, I told Conan,
“I was taken aback by how burdensome Di-Di felt about taking care of his brother Guang. Do you feel the same?”
Conan replied, “No, I am confident.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Don’t ask me why. I am always confident.” Conan said with a smile.
I feel compelled to recommend “Guang” to as many people as possible. And tell them, “Be Confident!”
Guang is not just a movie about autism, it is a movie about acceptance. It’s definitely the best family movie I have watched in years!
Rating: 5/5 (💯 )
Duration: 1 hr 30 mins
Subtitles: English, Chinese, Malay
My Indonesian helper said,
” The movie is really good, Sir. Although it’s a Chinese movie but there are English and Malay subtitles. I am sure your friends will enjoy it.”
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William W K Tan
14 March 2019, Thursday