“A place gets dirty, someone has to clean it… When it’s cleaned, it will get dirty again” Chak (The Narrow Road, 2022)
the narrow path or with the original Chinese title: Zhai lu wei chen directed by Lam Sum. 2022 Hong Kong drama film that has received praise from various quarters for its writing and characterization.
the narrow path He also received 5 film awards in Hong Kong and abroad. This movie can be seen on Klikfilm and it is the second feature film directed by Lam Sum. Set during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It tells the story of Chak (Louis Cheung) who struggles to keep his cleaning company afloat. The film premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on August 19, 2022. Here is Cineverse’s review of The Narrow Road:
Set in Hong Kong during the early days of the pandemic, it shows a city racked by economic and political uncertainty. The storefronts were full of foreclosure and bankruptcy notices.
Meanwhile, talk of moving abroad floats in the middle of everyday conversations. Plagued with faulty equipment, the one-man cleaning service operated by a weary Chak (Louis Cheung) is on the brink of bankruptcy.
When asked by his ailing mother if God told him to give up this business, Chak described himself as a speck of dust, so small that even the gods would not notice.
Candy (Angela Yuen), a single mother, is hired as an extra to help with her cleaning job. Despite the fact that Chak’s business situation is being hit by a storm.
It is easy to thread drama in the middle of a pandemic
The opening shot of the film. the narrow path Lam Sum’s work looks promising. When a man in full protective gear sprays a cloud of disinfectant over his head, the act of cleaning the room looks like a dance.
How quiet the city was everywhere in the morning hours when hardly anyone was awake. Playing all the corners of the city makes us a simple witness of how the city tries to rise from adversity through the character Chak.
Flores in the middle of the Chak fight
With her ever-cheerful demeanor and colorful fashion sense, Candy might as well have turned out looking like a fairy. Angela Yuen actually manages to give emotional weight to the character’s fickle quirks.
A particularly heartbreaking scene is when the two rub the human-shaped stain left behind by a nameless soul. They drowned in the middle of the solitude in the squalor, specks of dust forgotten by the outside world.
Although the sweet dynamic between Candy and Chak emphasizes the importance of affection, the film feels a bit self-righteous at times in the face of desperate decisions fueled by financial difficulties.
Candy’s shoplifting is treated as a frivolous character trait that Chak’s principles and generosity must reform, not as a matter of necessity.
In the end, it would be somewhat naive to say that there is an inherent virtue in enduring poverty with self-sacrificing glory.
Candy decides to stop shoplifting and Chak gives away his savings so that he and his daughter can start over a little easier. Concluding that selflessness and tirelessness is what saves us.
A simple story but too soft and hesitant, the narrow path it fails to tell stories of incredible socioeconomic violence with the conviction it needs.
Movies that show everyday life are made of little things. All those unfortunate little details define the life of an ordinary person. Just more and more incidents against the will.
There is no real climax and no attempt to portray ordinary people becoming heroes, as if we are all heroes. As if they were all supporting characters and only the best ones with limitations.
What a talent to portray a story with no special effects, no sex scenes, or even a memorable touch of skin.
The message it radiates is the courage to be honest, thanks to Hong Kong filmmakers still hanging in there and making sweet sketches.
Director: Lam Sum
Cast: Louis Cheung, Patra Au, Angela Yuen, Pak Hon Chu, Chun-Tung Lau, Pak-Him Chu, On Na Tong