Although director Simon Chung's latest cinematic venture, "Speechless," provides brief glimpses into gay life in contemporary China, at its heart this newly released DVD speaks volumes about the universal themes of grief and revenge.
Set in remote southern China, local police arrest a nameless foreigner when he is found naked on a riverbank. Remaining mute throughout his questioning and a stint at the hospital, Luke (Pierre-Matthieu Vital) is rescued by a fetching orderly, Jiang (Jian Jiang). As the two begin their own love interest, Luke's heartfelt story of a former lost love and his subsequent silent grief slowly unravels through present-day scenes and flashbacks that confusedly but ultimately merge into a coherent whole, driven by the humiliating revenge quietly exacted by actress Yung Yung Yu, furious at the discovery that her boyfriend has fallen for another guy.
Why the French Luke, suddenly speaks English to the Chinese girl at a critical point in the film, despite his previous proficiency in the local Chinese dialect, remains puzzling.
Chan Chi Lap's cinematography is beautiful, Sebastian Seidel's music charming, Vital's winsome features and powerful silent acting most gripping, and the tale engrossing, but the plot moves too slowly to be thrilling. Nice love stories though.