After the discovery of a grisly scene in an apartment, the police investigate into the lives of those involved. While Tai (Lam Sem), who lives in the apartment, was found unconscious, a classmate of his, Don (Kyle Li), was found holding the severed head of a prostitute named Yu Ting (Hanna Chan). As the officers interrogate the two youths, as well as their teacher (Alan Yuk), who is also somehow involved in the events, using physical torture on some of the suspects, they also find out about Xiaomei (Huang Lu), a female student whose background and cup size has made her a frequent target for her classmates’ mockery and bullying. What seemed like a clear-cut murder case at first, becomes something far more complex, leading directly into the dark heart of a country’s moral corruption and its obsession with keeping up a shiny appearance to the outside world.

G Affairs” is screening at Fantasia Festival 2019

In his feature debut, director Lee Cheuk Pan takes a closer look at Chinese society, focusing on the dark corners of the country and its various layers of hypocrisy as well as corruption. Starting from one grim murder scene, Chung-Yu Chiang’s script portrays a variety of people from different layers of society, each of which linked to one another while also suffering from the aforementioned character traits of the social system surrounding them. Even though it becomes clear the case at hand is far more complicated, the insistence of the authorities on a simple solution, and the cruel tactics they use to reach their goal may seem like the logical by-products of a deeply disturbed society.

However, the director and the writer show these issues as part of personal tragedies. Hanna Chan and Huang Lu play characters marked as outsiders by their environment because of their sexuality and their profession. Although it may feel a bit ham-fisted in the scene itself, the direct reference to Alexandre Dumas’ novel “The Lady with the Camelias” emphasizes how one is quick to judge someone by the outer appearance alone. Unwillingness to fit into the roles of sister, daughter, mother or wife, or rather exploring others will result in a vicious circle of bullying and ostracism, for males and females alike. Quite fittingly, Hanna Chan’s character concludes “the tainted can never be cleansed”. At the same time, those who demonstrate affection, emotion or any other sign of weakness become victims of exploitation, the observers to acts of corruption, depravity and cruelty.

Clearly, the world created by Lee Cheuk Pan is twisted and dark. Consequently, the approach by cinematographer Ka Ho Karl Tam highlights these features, for example, in the impressive 180 degrees-shot featured in the opening of the film, presenting a first glimpse into this world and all its aspects. In its strongest moments, the film comes close to the portrayal of human darkness and sexuality in the works by David Lynch, especially “Blue Velvet”, as the sexual act becomes an act of submission and repression. Considering the Janus-headed depiction of society, these acts show the depths of moral degradation as well as the profound rottenness at its core.

In the end, “G Affairs” is an impressive film about the moral bankruptcy of a system and how it affects its citizens. Blending personal drama with thriller elements, Lee Cheuk Pan has managed to create an enthralling work featuring great cinematography and acting. Ultimately, “G Affairs” may just be one of the highlights of this year’s Fantasia Film Festival.

Advertisement
Ever since I watched Takeshi Kitano's "Hana-Bi" for the first time (and many times after that) I have been a cinephile. While much can be said about the technical aspects of film, coming from a small town in Germany, I cherish the notion of art showing its audience something which one does normally avoid, neglect or is unable to see for many different reasons. Often the stories told in films have helped me understand, discover and connect to something new which is a concept I would like to convey in the way I talk and write about films. Thus, I try to include some info on the background of each film as well as a short analysis (without spoilers, of course), an approach which should reflect the context of a work of art no matter what genre, director or cast. In the end, I hope to pass on my joy of watching film and talking about it.