Wednesday, March 30, 2016

HEAVEN IN THE DARK 暗色天堂 Movie Review


After sharing a passionate kiss with Pastor To (Jacky Cheung), Michelle (Karena Lam) files sexual harassment charges against the pastor. The scandal and the proceedings take their toll on both of them in different ways. When they meet again years after, To and Michelle both realize that truth and absolution was never the ultimate destination.


Adapted from the original play “French Kiss” by Candace Chong

Presented by - Emperor Motion Pictures

Director - Steve Yuen

Starring - Jacky Cheung, Karena Lam

Co-starring - Anthony Wong, Wong He, Law Lan, Edmond So, Michelle Wai, Catherine Chau, Tyson Chak, Vincci Cheuk


Heaven in the Dark is a highly charged social drama set in a religious context that could be sensitive if not handled with care. It is about a charismatic pastor, Marco, played adeptly by Jacky Cheung (singer/songwriter), who at the same time acted as a leader of an innovative social enterprise to supply medicine to the third world. There he met a newly joined junior staff named Michelle, played superbly by newly acclaimed "Best Lead Actress" at the 52nd Golden Horse Award, Karena Lam, 14 years after their last collaboration with Jacky in "July Rhapsody". 

Attracted by Marco’s charisma, Michelle started to attend the church where Marco preached. When a highly eligible bachelor and a charming secret admirer were brought together, the stage was set for the firework that would follow.

In a sermon that Michelle attended, Marco preached about the temptation of the red succulent apple. Asking anyone in the congregation to spare an apple as a demonstration, he randomly (or was it?) chose the one that Michelle brought and ate it, core and all. Yet he advised his congregation that the best way not to fall into temptation is to avoid it. That episode could effectively be the theme of the story as he did not follow what he preached.

As the relationship quietly developed, Michelle had a beautiful though intoxicating farewell dinner with Marco before he was to leave for overseas. After the dinner, the eligible bachelor and the ardent admirer shared a passionate kiss in the car at the scenic Victoria Peak, enhanced by the effect of liquor.

What followed was a scandal arising from a court case brought about by Michelle herself accusing Marco of sexual molest. Marco was found guilty, and subsequently abandoned priesthood and nearly his faith. Four or five years later, when they met for the first time, Michelle, already married with a kid, seized the opportunity to forgive Marco, who was clueless what he had done wrong to deserve the trial and tribulation brought upon him by Michele. An explosion of emotions followed. The revelation by Michele transformed him to recover his faith.

Directed by Steve Yuen, who in real life is the husband of Karena, has skillfully brought the drama to an explosive end. The flashbacks, while useful as a technique, can be minimized. The building up of suspense that culminates in the expected revelation by Michele is stretched a little too thin, but sustained by the emotionally charged though protracted dialogue.  

With star and entertainment appeals, I would rate the film 3 stars out of 5. In three words, I enjoyed it!

This M18 movie will be showing in cinema starting from 7 April 2016. 



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