Cast: Li Xiaofeng, Megan Lai, Sammi Cheng
Official Selection, 2019 Busan International Film Festival
In one of her best roles in years as Acacia, superstar Sammi Cheng stares at her recently deceased father’s cell phone as affectionate emoji-filled chats fill the screen. Turns out, Ha Leung (Kenny Bee) was not only a failure as a dad, but he secretly had two other daughters with whom he shared the cheery closeness Acacia longed for. Cherry (Li Xiaofeng) is a tangerine-haired livestreamer from China, pushed away by the only family who claims her. Branch (Megan Lai), a simmering Taiwanese competitive pool player, can’t seem to integrate into her mother’s second family. When the half-sisters meet Acacia for funeral rites in Hong Kong, FAGARA smartly avoids spinning into a tale of rivalry. Instead, the awkward reunion begins a charming journey of unexpected kinship, as the three combine forces to save their father’s famous fagara hot pot restaurant.
Based on a novel by popular author Amy Cheung, FAGARA seems made for director Heiward Mak’s signature sensitivity to modern women in complicated situations. FAGARA’s warmth is delicately geographic, as the women move between Hong Kong, Taipei, and Chongqing as comfortably as stops on a subway station. The transnational intimacy also plays through its star-sprinkled cast, including multi-national celeb Kenny Bee and Taiwanese star Richie Jen as a romantically hopeful doctor. But FAGARA, produced by powerhouse Ann Hui (A Simple Life, SDAFF Spring Showcase ‘12), is ultimately a Hong Kong movie, giving us the unusually sweet pleasure of Hong Kong’s biggest stars, together once more; as Sammi Cheng drives around with a delightfully suburban Andy Lau as her cardigan-wearing, long-term boyfriend, this is the gracefully aging Hong Kong cinema fans dream of.