|Papa Can You Hear Me Sing|
|Director:||Yu Kang Ping|
|Stars:||Sun Yue, Linda Liu Shui Kei, Ng Siu Kong,Jiang Shia, Lee Li Qun|
|Rating:||7 (from 1 vote)|
|Review:||Uncle Dumb (Sun Yue), a mute shantytown dweller who earns a living collecting garbage, finds an abandoned baby girl named Ah Mei. Her arrival upsets his floozy girlfriend, who eventually leaves him, but Uncle Dumb raises the child as his own. Through happy times, tragedy and heartbreak, he lifts Ah Mei’s spirits with a jaunty tune played on his old trumpet. Twenty years later, she grows into a winsome beauty (Linda Liu Shui Kei) with a lovely singing voice that draws an arrogant songwriter and flamboyantly gay manager, who remould her into pop superstar Sun Jun Chi. Ah Mei’s impoverished past becomes a closely guarded secret and touring keeps her far away from her beloved dad. Social changes in Hong Kong bring harsh times for Uncle Dumb and his poverty stricken neighbours. When Ah Mei finally tries to help, it may already be too late.This old fashioned weepy is hugely popular in Hong Kong and tells a heartfelt, touching tale that should resonate with English audiences too. The story of an old man and his adopted daughter is really a window into the lives of an impoverished community, where tragedy lurks at every turn. Homes burn down, characters gamble their savings away or die tragically, but there are touches junkyard camaraderie that recall Akira Kurosawa’sDodes’ka-den (1970) and bleakly humanistic comedy. In a moment simultaneously tender, funny and horrific, the starving Uncle Dumb and friend’s efforts to kill a puppy for food (“I’ll pray for you to be reincarnated into a western family”) are foiled when the wounded animal befriends Ah Mei. Growing up to be a junkyard Rin Tin Tin, the dog saves Ah Mei from a poisonous snake and Uncle Dumb from a speeding motorcycle, becoming symbolic of the community’s enduring spirit.A spirit that sadly fades away once city officials decide start bulldozing the tenements. “Hong Kong may change but our lives remained the same”, remarks Ah Mei. The film plays as an extended metaphor for the city. As Hong Kong grows prosperous there is a sense they’ve left something valuable behind. Yu Kang Ping’s gliding camerawork displays an ingenious filmmaking craft, especially poetic when cross-cutting between Uncle Dumb’s trumpet reverie and flashbacks to his wartime past, where he lost his voice in a bayonet attack. It harks back to the glory days of Hollywood melodrama and greatly benefits from Sun Yue’s wonderfully evocative performance.
The film threatens to lose focus during Ah Mei’s rise to pop stardom via some inevitably tacky Eighties musical numbers. Attempts to yoke sympathy for her songwriter-boyfriend (who initially tries to impress by telling her she can’t sing, chatting her up whilst reversing into another car and punching out the driver) falter because he is plainly just as selfish as the other entertainment bigwigs. The story quickly recovers with a moving musical climax where Ah Mei laments the changes and cruelties inflicted in the cause of progress, then races to her father’s hospital bed. Not a dry eye in the house when she sings his song.
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