A mild dash of titillation and a huge dollop of tedious lecturing make Hong Kong prostie meller "Whispers and Moans" an aggravating dirge. Pic led a retrospective of prolific helmer Herman Yau's work at this year's Hong Kong fest, but rough direction makes this look cheaper than a drug-addled streetwalker.

A mild dash of titillation and a huge dollop of tedious lecturing make Hong Kong prostie meller “Whispers and Moans” an aggravating dirge. Pic led a retrospective of prolific helmer Herman Yau’s work at this year’s Hong Kong fest, but rough direction makes this look cheaper than a drug-addled streetwalker. Across Asian territories, pic will attract — and then disappoint — auds cruising for cheap thrills.

Film is like a Hong Kong version of Lizzie Borden’s ’80s benchmark “Working Girls,” which also depicted the professional and personal lives of prostitutes. At the start, lobbying by a welfare worker to organize a sex worker’s collective is greeted with universal derision by the junkies, students, transsexuals and others who’ve ended up in the oldest profession. Episodes dealing with HIV, syphilis, heroin, gangsters, inconsiderate clients and price-undercutting Mainland girls are designed to seduce both characters and auds into thinking the social worker is right. Helming looks rushed and disheveled; the script, based on a book of interviews with real-life hookers, is pedestrian, leaving poorly rehearsed thesps stranded. Tech credits are low-rent.

Whispers and Moans

Hong Kong

Production

A Cameron Entertainment Co., Tesbury production. (International sales: Mei Ah Entertainment, Hong Kong.) Produced by Choi Chi-nam, Chan Man-ding. Directed by Herman Yau. Screenplay, Yang Yee-shan, Yau, based on the book by Yang.

Crew

Camera (color), Puccini Yu; editor, Yau Chi-wai; music, Brother Hung; production designer. Reviewed at Hong Kong FilMart, March 22, 2007. (Also in Hong Kong Film Festival.) Cantonese, Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Athena Chu, Candice Yu, Patrick Tang, Mandy Chiang, Monie Tung.
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