“Fig” is the latest offering from Hong Kong indie film maker Vincent Chui, and stands out somewhat from the rest of the CIFF program in that it’s arguably less of an independent production as such, having obviously enjoyed a fairly healthy budget, and boasting a script by Liu Siu Wah, who won the Hong Kong Film Festival Screenplay Award in 2009 for her work on Ann Hui’s “The Way We Are”. The story revolves around a Hong Kong housewife called Ka, who leaves her stable though unhappy marriage after tragedy strikes her family, packing her suitcase and heading for Macau, where she takes a job working in a small laundrette. There, she strikes up a friendship with the younger Man, who is going through a crisis in her own life, falling out with her father for his moving on with his younger lover after the death of her mother. The two form an instant bond, which gradually develops into something more, with repercussions for both them and their families.
Though not terribly ambitious, and having a fairly familiar feel, “Fig” is nevertheless entertaining and thoughtful, Vincent Chui and Liu Siu Wah successfully portraying the complexities of modern relationships, families and connections. While some of its symbolism, including laundry as a way of washing away the past and flower pot changing as means of growth, is a little obvious, the film does have a few things to say, which it does in an amiable fashion. It’s a warm and humanistic work, and the viewer gets pulled into the story and the characters’ lives without too much fuss or manipulation as it builds towards an emotionally rewarding conclusion. Strong performances from the two female leads give the material a boost, and some beautiful visuals also help to distract from the film’s shortcomings.