Ann Hui, award-winning filmmaker from Hong Kong, is one of the women added to the AMPAS Directors Branch this month. Our Time Will Come is her new feature. Here’s what we think!
FF2’s Managing Editor Brigid K. Presecky:
Director Ann Hui’s third feature goes on an atypical journey with “Lan,” (Zhou Xun) a quiet leader who takes on an important role in Japanese-occupied Hong Kong during the 1940s. After a violent murder sets the plot in motion, viewers are immersed into a world they might have only known through the chapters of a high school textbook (i.e. American viewers, like myself). Xun leads an outstanding cast as Lan, a strong female protagonist who becomes a cog in the machine of war. He Jiping’s script, although occasionally challenging to follow, passes the Bechdel-Wallace test by utilizing Lan’s relationship with her mother, “Mrs. Fong,” (Deannie Yip) a highlight of Our Time Will Come. (BKP: 4/5)
FF2’s Social Media Manager Georgiana E. Presecky
Ann Hui’s simplistic but powerful Our Time Will Come follows quiet “Fang Lan” (Zhou Xun) from reciting poetry and refusing a marriage proposal to becoming a fighter, in every sense of the word. Though those unfamiliar with Japan’s wartime occupation of Hong Kong might wrestle with the film’s plot in the beginning, Hui’s direction and He Jiping’s script work together to clarify the details in a suspenseful way, with action serving less as a plot device and more as a very real harsh reality of the dangers of war and oppression. Even the likely unfamiliarity with this part of history shouldn’t deter viewers, though the exposition is quietly drawn out. Fang Lan’s humble intelligence and transformation are empowering, but Hui and Jiping are sure to keep the realities of her daily life close by, should it ever venture into the unrealistic. This character’s personal connection to an upsetting part of history should keep audiences interested, scared, strong, unsure and motivated right alongside its protagonist. (GEP: 3.5/5)
FF2 Associate Lindsy M. Bissonnette:
Our Time Will Come written by Jiping He and directed by Ann Hui, is the story of Japanese occupied Hong Kong in 1941. While I appreciated the film’s tenderness and intricately woven plot, many aspects of the film are difficult to follow. The main characters are constantly traveling from place to place but as an audience member I never got a good sense of time or of distance, which left me in a constant state of confusion as to where they were or how much time had passed. I wish that the translations had mentioned which languages were being spoken at what times, since differentiating between languages played such a huge part. My final problem with the film is that it’s a combination of narrative and documentary, with present-day interviews woven into the story taking place in the 1940s, which left me waiting for how they would be tied together (since the present day interviews are with a character that we barely see in the film). Overall Our Time Will Come has a beautiful story to tell, but is, unfortunately, difficult to follow. (LMB: 3/5)
FF2 Intern Roza M. Melkumyan:
There are many aspects of Our Time Will Come that I enjoyed, one of which being the music. Very early on in the film I could tell that this beautiful score was written by Joe Hisaishi. Some of the more sweeping melodies sounded like they had come out of a Studio Ghibli film. I was also impressed with Zhou Xun’s performance as “Lan.” Toward the end of the film when Lan realizes that she will never be able to get her mother back, her portrayal of hurt and sorrow moved me to tears. My favorite character, however, is Lan’s mother, “Mrs. Fong” (Deannie Ip). Her brilliant performance conveyed Mrs. Fong’s determination to help others, no matter the personal cost. When she is captured, she takes full responsibility for her treason so that nobody else, especially Lan, will get hurt. She did not have to get involved and deliver Lan’s messages, but Mrs. Fong loves her daughter fiercely, and takes it upon herself to take care of her. I saw my own mother in Mrs. Fong and I cried at the thought of someone so close to me getting into such a dangerous situation. If a film can make me feel such strong emotions as this, then it must be doing something right.
While I enjoyed the film, I had trouble following the plot at times. If I understood more Chinese, or were able to quickly distinguish Chinese from Japanese, perhaps I would not feel like I missed out on major plot points. The fact that the characters in the film speak either Chinese or Japanese reminds me that the subtitles are translations. If there is one thing that I’ve learned about translations, it is that something will always get lost along the way. It makes me sad to think that there were Chinese speakers in the audience who probably knew what was going on far better than I ever could simply because they understand the language and I do not. My confusion, however, also stems from scene transitions that leave holes in the story’s progression. For example, there is a scene where Lan and “Blackie” (Eddie Peng) are standing outside of the jail where Mrs. Fong is being held. In the previous scene, they escaped from Japanese troops that were in their village. How did they get to the prison? And where is it physically in relation to the village? Because of unclear scene transitions in regards to spatial distance and the plausibility of characters’ actions, I found myself getting lost in the plot. (RMM: 4/5)
To read our Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner’s full review of Our Time Will Come, click here!