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Four Faces of Eve

Scheme to showcase versatile H.K. actress Sandra Ng in four (or five) different roles backfires when each seg proves less substantial than the one before it. Pic is more likely to be lauded for Chris Doyle's edgy lensing than for any acting on view, and it stands no chance with offshore auds. (Pic has opened in L.A.)

With:
With: Sandra Ng, Eric Kot, Jan Lamb, Karen Mok, Wyman Wong.

Scheme to showcase versatile H.K. actress Sandra Ng in four (or five) different roles backfires when each seg proves less substantial than the one before it. Pic is more likely to be lauded for Chris Doyle’s edgy lensing than for any acting on view, and it stands no chance with offshore auds. (Pic has opened in L.A.)

First, most attractive seg features Ng as a blond-wigged hooker with gnawing fixation on her therapist, whom she stalks at a public swimming pool and then at a lake, where he’s trying to fish. Water shots, replete with odd angles and jarring cuts, are arresting, and the topliner exerts some sexy-neurotic pull, but improvised dialogue just runs in circles, adding up to few laughs and even fewer insights.

Second story, in which she plays a mute immigrant wife forever attempting to mollify her cruel husband, has no dialogue at all. Or rather, what speech there is takes place in a made-up lingo consisting of grunts and sputters. Scenes are played out in fast-motion, slapstick style, complete with ricky-tick piano accompaniment, and they’re tedious beyond belief.

Most diffuse seg has Ng as twin sisters, with one a meek invalid and the other a butch, cross-dressing businesswoman. Other family members float around them aimlessly, and the viewer barely sorts out the story before it’s over. Finally, in an increasingly irritating sequence, she plays a dull housewife who lands on a TV gameshow where she and her errant hubby air their dirty laundry, much to the canned-laughter amusement of a studio audience and an obnoxiously nerdy host. So-called satire will be lost on U.S. auds, who can see the same thing every day on domestic tube. Here again, writing brings no wit or wisdom to its obvious targets, and, in any case, top-liner is entirely swamped by noisy hubbub, so point of project is badly blunted.

Auds won’t care at all about “Eve,” but regular Asia watchers, at least, will note Doyle’s aggressively experimental work, which plays with rougher qualities of lighting, film stock and camera handling, mixed with appropriate grunge-beat music. If same approach was wedded to an actual script, results could be explosive.

Four Faces of Eve

Production: A Margin Films (L.A.) presentation of a Spark Star Prods. (Hong Kong) production. Produced by Sandra Ng, William Chang. Directed by Jan Lamb, Kwok-Leung Kam, Eric Kot, Eric Kwok. Screenplay, Kam, Lamb.

Crew: Camera (color), Chris Doyle; editors, Eric Kot, Kei-Hap Chan, William Chang; music, Kwok-Jing Tam. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival, Sept. 29, 1997. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: With: Sandra Ng, Eric Kot, Jan Lamb, Karen Mok, Wyman Wong.

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