Hong Kong director, Simon Chung’s latest film, SPEECHLESS, rendered me just so when I first began to immerse myself in its quiet and patient beauty. It embodies a truly progressive movement in gay cinema, one where stories transcend the inherit issues that come with being gay without sacrificing them whatsoever. SPEECHLESS boasts a solid and sensitive screenplay that allows Chung’s visual language as a director to shine through. And you’ve gotta love a movie that starts with a hot French guy completely disrobing for a naked dip in a river somewhere in the middle of the incredibly picturesque South of China.
This naked man, known mostly throughout the film as the foreigner and played by Pierre-Mathieu Vital, says nothing to the Chinese police officers who bring him in after he is found on a river bank, passed out and being poked at with sticks by local children. They aren’t sure at first if he is just being difficult or not but eventually send him to a psychiatric hospital for treatment under the belief that his inability to speak is trauma induced. They are correct in their assumption and the rest of the film becomes a journey to piece together precisely what this mystery man is running away from. Luke, as we come to know the foreigner’s name to be later on, is joined by Jiang (Gao Qilun), a nurse who helps Luke escape the authorities to pursue his past. Their chemistry is undeniable.
The film may be called SPEECHLESS but Chung is anything but that, showcasing his voice as a director loud and clear with his latest. He exhibits great promise and confidence as a director with the potential to play to audiences around the world. By saying very little in the moment, SPEECHLESS speaks volumes long after its done.
SPEECHLESS has its Canadian Premiere at the 2012 Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in Toronto on Wednesday, May 22. Visit the festival website for more details.