By Don Simpson | November 27, 2010
Director: Kit Hui
Writer(s): Kit Hui
Starring: Terence Yin, Eugenia Yuan, Camy Ting, Joman Chiang, Phat Chan
Wai (Terence Yin) remembers nothing at all; it seems he suffers from amnesia due to an unnamed and unexplained incident that occurred in the (presumably recent) past. Wai’s past is not even foggy or a faint blur, it has been completely purged from his memory banks. For Wai, history (both personal and otherwise) has been negated.
Wai finds himself residing with his mother (Camy Ting) and younger sister (Joman Chiang) — both of whom he has no recollection of knowing — in Hong Kong. He slowly ingratiates himself back into his circle of friends, knowing that he must rely on his family and friends (the people he once knew) to fill in the blanks of his past. Otherwise, Wai wanders across Hong Kong each day in a zombie-like trance, helplessly searching for answers for which he does not even know the questions.
In an attempt to numb the pain of forgetting, or at least ease himself back into the realm of the knowing, Wai over-indulges in alcohol and drugs. Wai learns by mimicry (as when he is struggles to set up a lighting unit while working at a photography studio), so we sense that Wai’s use of alcohol and drugs is at least partially a result of him aping his friends while also functioning as a surefire way to return back to his former (partying) self. That is, if that is who Wai really wants to be…
It seems Wai may never regain his memory and the bits and pieces that he is able to gather regarding his past are destined to only create more conflict and confusion. Fog, the feature film debut of director Kit Hui (Missing), does not provide many answers for its protagonist (or the audience). There are countless questions that remain deliberately unanswered, first and foremost: Why are his family and friends so blatantly hiding parts of his past from him?
A tranquil and minimalist meditation on memory and self, Fog takes place in 2007 during the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong “handover” from the UK to China. The timing allows Wai to function as a metaphor for Hong Kong. Hui seems to be pontificating that Hong Kong has lost its identity and its sense of history. Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire in August 1842 (during the First Opium War); it was briefly occupied by Japan during World War II (1941-1945), then the British again maintained control through 1997 when Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty. Shortly after the handover to China, Hong Kong suffered devastating economic blows from the Asian financial crisis and the H5N1 avian influenza. In 2007, Hong Kong is finally emerging from its fog and attempting to unearth its true identity. As with Wai, the question remains: Should Hong Kong begin anew by reinventing itself or should it piece together enough of its checkered past to create a historical identity?