Lilting is a drama that explores modern versus traditional culture, along with love and a lot of language barriers. We follow Junn, who is the mother of Kai, (her recently deceased gay son) and Richard whom was kept secret from Junn as he was Kai’s boyfriend and Junn was unaware of her son’s sexuality. Richard tries to form a relationship with Junn and passes himself off as her son’s best friend.
In this film we see two different sides of the story. We see the difficulties of a woman (Junn) living in an English culture without knowing the language, which is a constant barrier to Junn and makes her rely even more on her son (Kai) and we see the difficult decisions that Kai has to make to be able to live comfortably in his own skin, without fear of judgment and discrimination from his mother. This film collides two extremely different cultures together in a modern day society in a convincing and explosive way. Writer and Director Hong Khaou represents the two extreme cultural differences, between Junn and Richard, through Junn’s love interest Alan (played by Peter Bowles), who is a typical cockney English character that is completely opposite to Junn’s traditional respectful family values background.
This low budget film is slow and steady in its pace. It did not rush and create un-necessary drama, as the topic itself is enough to keep an audience captivated throughout. The script is extremely well written and was brilliantly performed by Ben Whishaw, who played Richard, as an utterly heart-broken mess over his boyfriend’s death. The film deals not only with different cultures colliding, but also delves into the true concept of being lonely with only memories to comfort you in a time of absolute grief, especially when no one else knows your language. The dialogue between the characters is extremely truthful and accurate to real everyday conversations, which draw me even more into the story. The Director Hong Khaou even decided to take parts of the subtitles out of the film that translates what Junn is saying to make the audience feel as lost as Richard is when he tries to communicate with Junn through his cheeky unflinching translator Vann played by Naomi Christie, which, in times added comical value to the story.
Lilting is extremely touching and shows the audience how grief brings people from all kinds of backgrounds together and that barriers can be broken down with time and understanding. I fully recommend this to anyone wanting to watch a film that is a little different and has a lot of heart.
Review by Georgina Jacobs