A Queer Story
A middle-aged marriage counselor (George Lam) and his twentysomething hairdresser lover (Jordan Chan) try to cope with their closeted relationship in this trailblazing 1997 feature by Hong Kong writer-director Shu Kei (Hu Du Men). While Shu flirts with preachiness and melodrama, the film mostly avoids bathos; its muted, bittersweet tone effectively underscores a realistic, sometimes humorous portrait of compassion and hypocrisy in a society that criminalized homosexual acts until the early 90s. Shu focuses on the older man, who eventually comes out to his family, yet the narrative's leisurely digressions also permit a finely observed cross section of Hong Kong's professional class and gay culture. (In one powerfully moving scene a celebrated young photographer attends his lover's funeral in defiance of protocol.) The director also strikes the right balance between the reserved Lam and the volatile Chan; ironically, teen heartthrob Chan gets to flirt with the boys here, while Lam, a 70s pop crooner famous for his heterosexual love songs, provides the sound track with an ardent ballad meant for his gay lover. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, April 11, 6:00, and Sunday, April 12, 2:00, 312-443-3737. --Ted Shen
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.