There is an African saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. The full upbringing of a child until adulthood means that the social environment where the parents live must be subsidized. Particularly in the case of a child with a disability, the social impact has a greater influence than the role of the parent alone. If the parents are not financially solid or if the social welfare system is not sufficient enough, the lives of the parents end up being subordinate to the child.
Hong Kong social drama film ‘Tomorrow is Another Day’, shows the life of a mother who has to bare the burden of raising a child with autism.
Mrs Wong (Literal meaning of her name is Golden Flower) lives in Tai-po, a middle-class neighbourhood in Hong Kong, with her husband and her son. Her husband is a driving license instructor. Her son Kwong likes painting and big fishes, and is autistic. When he gets stressed, he hits himself and hurts himself.
She knows that her husband is having an affair with a young woman living in the neighbourhood. But because her son needs a dad, she tries to ignore it and keep the family together. However, one day, ‘the couple’ has a big arguing ending up with Kwong having a seizure, and her husband ends leaving the house. Despite the murmuring of the village people, Mrs Wong tries to proceed with her life with her son, selling ice cream and keeping an ordinary life, but the burden leads her to the extreme imagination.
Teresa Mo utterly justifies the Best Actress award she received from Hong Kong Film Awards. Moving from a young television star to a middle-aged mother, she shows a woman in conflict with motherhood and the hardships of life. At the beginning of the movie, she highlights her ordinary routine. Her daily life resembles that of a typical housewife, altough she has to take care of her son, constantly. Although she does not particularly reveal emotions, you can feel the tough life of Mrs Wong in her weary expression behind the fan, which is seen in the scene of performing a traditional fan dance with her neighbours.
Ling Man-lung, who plays the role of her autistic son, is impressive considering this is his first feature film. Many movies which take autistic children, highlight the unique abilities of the children and give some hope to be embraced by society. However, Kwong’s handicap is severe to bear. He likes painting, but unlike the usual tactic, his painting skill, which consists of red and blue, and simple lines, is hardly outstanding. His disappointed character emphasizes the difficulties of dealing with the rigors of everyday life.
Despite the brilliant performances the film is somewhat weak in terms of narrative. The characters seem quite typical, while the story, instead of resonating with the pending social issues, it attributes the cause of the family’s dismantle to the extramarital relationship. The approach to Mrs Wong’s neighborhood is incomplete and partial. It is hard to find a character with emotional development or change, except for Mrs Wong. Although Chan Tai-lee’s approach is fresh, he fails to expand the main subject to a broader point. It is still meaningful to see the difficulties that a ‘non-generic family’ faces; however, to understand the whole circumstances surrounding the family, with that being said in the beginning, you need to look around the social environment.
Overall, “Tomorrow is Another Day” is a film that definitely deserves a watch, particularly due to the acting aspect, although it would definitely benefit from a more thorough approach in its main subject.