As it happens to the main character of the film, the director Liang Ying’s last 5 years has been some kind of a chaotic trip. He directed the film “When Night Falls” in 2012, where he treated the events occurred in China on 2008, where a man was sentenced to death for killing 6 police officers . As a result of this controversial project, the director Liang Ying was pressured by the authorities and had to go into exile in Hong Kong, where he has been living all these recent years.
“A Family Tour” is his first feature film after that incident, a project softly touching the documentary genre, where he treats in a very personal way all the problems and experiences he had to go through (and might be going through) these past years since 2012, because despite a few differences in some identities, the main conflict of “A Family Tour” is the exact same the director himself had to go through: A female director who had to go into exile in Hong Kong after making a film that did not please the authorities of the country, decides to take a trip to Taiwan in order to promote her new film and on the way she also decides to visit her mother alongside her family, in spite of all her personal and economic conflicts.
“A Family Tour” is screening at
Festival des Cinémas d’Asie de Vesoul
“A Family Tour” is a distant but close family trip, tough, touching and close. After directing “The Mother of One Recluse”, the director Yang Shu (Gong Zhe) is forced to live in exile in Hong Kong. But when her mother (Nai An) survives to a serious operation, the two women decide to meet in Taiwan, where Yang will attend a film festival with her husband (Pete Teo) and her son (Tham Xin Yue). All will stay in the same hotel and will do the same touristic tour, with the difference that they will have to do it separately to pretend they are not related in any way as a family, to not raise suspicions.
Liang Ying finally releases a vindicating story against censorship and oppression, because when freedom is so limited to the point that to do things as mundane as being able to be with your loved ones when they are having a bad time, you are not able to fulfill that, things aren’t working as well as they seem. The brilliant cinematography by Ryuji Otsuka is narrated mainly based on master shots, with hardly any type of movement. Many times we see the family together in the same shot, but it is appreciated that in spite of being together in the frame, what they really are is far away from each other.
The actors on the other hand do an exceptional job, and on that aspect you can appreciate both director Ying Liang’s passion and commitment and the actors themselves. Gong Zhe seems contained at all times, seen as a repressed person about to explode at any time. Just by the look on her face, you can tell something worries her and that she has many internal anxieties. But the one who steals the show every time she appears is Nai An in the role of an elderly sick mother, who only wants the best for everyone to continue with her quiet life.
In the end, “A Family Tour” is nothing more than a sad film based on a real event story about the loss of your rights and privileges, about how you come to sacrifice everything you love to do what you think is right, to fight and to let the world see the situation cannot continue like this. There comes a point where if you do the right thing, your loved ones become endangered, but if you do not, you feel frustrated by not doing what you really feel is right. In that sense, the message of the film is clear, but the conclusion, like life itself, is not so clear, because after all, we all feel like strangers in this world.