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Review: 'Twilight's Kiss' is an Authentic Story About Queer Senior Love

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 6, 2020
'Twilight's Kiss'
'Twilight's Kiss'  

For his third feature film award-winning queer Hong Kong filmmaker Ray Yeung has another love story to tell, and, as usual with him, it's an unexpectedly heart-touching tale, although this time it is between two seemingly unlikely gay men.

Set in Hong Kong, this is the story of a 70-year-old cab driver Pak (Tai-Bo), who is still working even though he could afford to retire, but he needs a reason to escape from his house every day. His is a typical conservative Chinese household run by the matriarch Ching Ching (Patra Au), his wife of 40 years. Most nights they are joined at the dinner table by his grown daughter and her fiance, plus his married son, his wife, and Pak's grandchild. It is the latter who is the only one who seems to bring any joy to Pak, who is otherwise morose and withdrawn.

Driving the cab also gives him a chance to cruise the city's men's toilets to look for anonymous sex. It's outside one of these that one day he meets Hoi (Ben Yuen), a retired divorcee who refuses Pak's invite to have sex, suggesting they talk and become friends first.

As Hoi shares his apartment with his hypercritical son Wan and his family, the two men have little choice in where they can have a sexual encounter, so Hoi takes Pak to a gay bathhouse where all the other customers are also mature men. Full credit to both Yeung and the two actors for making these scenes of intimacy both discreet and at the same time quite erotic.

The two lovers easily develop a close bond out of both their afternoons at the sauna, and also from the sheer release that, for once in their lives, they can be openly gay with another man. Hoi does attend a gay support group for seniors, but like all the other men there, bar one, he is still totally closeted in fear of repercussions from his ultra-religious son and society in general.

Hoi and Pak want more out of their budding relationship, so they start with Hoi cooking dinner at home when his son and family are away for the day. Pak then reciprocates by inviting Hoi to the wedding banquet of his daughter, but instead of making them feel closer, they start to realize the reality of Pak being married is probably more insurmountable than they had imagined.

Full credit to Yeung, not only for showing us that queer love is by no means only for the young, but for his complete understanding of the needs and desires of older men who have been closeted their entire lives. And big kudos to Tai-Bo and Ben Yuen for their finely nuanced performances, which were a joy to watch.

Hoi's self help group is debating a city motion to create a seniors' home for the LGBTQ community, but whilst they support it in theory, they are all petrified by aligning themselves as it will automatically out them in society. Here in the U.S., LGBTQ seniors have different fears based on the realization that most assisted living centers are faith-based, and they will be forced back into the closet just to be accepted.

The whole piece, probably Yeung's best to date, works well and makes for compelling viewing, as it's so non-judgemental and completely authentic. It acts as a sharp reminder of what many older gay men sacrificed in order to make others happy. Cue the Kleenex.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.


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