March 4, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

‘Twilight’s Kiss’ review: A tender Hong Kong gay love story

Although numerous films and TV shows have featured older LGBTQ couples — “Cloudburst,” “Love Is Strange,” “Vicious” and the current “Supernova,” to name a few — the Hong Kong locale of “Twilight’s Kiss” makes writer-director Ray Yeung’s gently observant, deliberately-paced drama about two aging gay men feel uniquely profound.

Pak (Tai Bo) is a pragmatic 70-year-old taxi driver on the cusp of semi-retirement. He’s married to the sour and suspicious Ching (Au Ga Man Patra), with whom he has two children and a sweet grandchild (with a second on the way). It’s been a simple, contained life except for one thing: his furtive attraction to men. But he has stayed closeted due not only to societal and generational constraints, but because of the pride and comfort he’s enjoyed as a family man.

Enter Hoi (Ben Yuen), whom Pak tries — unsuccessfully — to pick up while cruising in the local park. The kindly, livelier Hoi is 65, retired, long divorced, and lives with his rigid, devoutly Christian son, Wan (Lo Chun Yip), and Wan’s wife and young daughter. Hoi is also closeted to his family but has much more experience than Pak in the gay world including being part of the Mature Tongzhi Society, a supportive circle of senior gay men.

Pak and Hoi meet up again and slowly enter into a tender and joyful romance, filled with small adventures and stolen moments, though the shadow of secrecy and familial pressure looms large. Can these two kindred spirits somehow find a path to long-term happiness?

Viewers hoping for a definitive answer may be disappointed, even if you can extrapolate one or two options from the closing shot.

Some may also wish this low-key film spent more time with Pak and Hoi together than it does with them apart. Yet this approach lends the story a kind of mosaic quality, effectively fleshing out our protagonists vis-a-vis their friends, family members and home lives. How Pak tends his beloved cab speaks volumes.

The movie also offers a vivid view of Hong Kong and its environs, with a discreet peek into the city’s gay social scene. Fine performances all around as well.

‘Twilight’s Kiss’

In Cantonese with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Playing: Starts Feb. 19, Laemmle Virtual Cinema; also on PVOD