A trying effort that falls just short
Sometimes, when you go into a film with no expectations or even expecting the worst, there are those occasions when it is going to be better than expected. While this isn't saying much, as it is a par below the refreshing – Cocktail or Neo's favourite – I'll Call You, this flick isn't half bad. Wife from Hell isn't really a thriller or horror as the title might suggest, but rather about the temptations and hidden ambitions that a married guy in his 30s has to go through. Given the limited budget, the director and his entire production team puts in a credible effort at an actual attempt of filmmaking. Neo have always admired people who try to make an effort and doing their best. Sure, the solution of the film may be flawed, but at least the effort is there. Yes, it is by no means perfect, but at least they tried – unlike the atrocious, Wong Jing's Wise Guys Never Die.
Candy Lo is an interesting performer and one that is willing to act her age. She has always been an underrated actress and someone that deserves better than her given string of B-movie roles. Earlier this year, Lo produced a scene stealing performance as a regretful lover in Cocktail. There were moments of depression and drunkenness that show glimpses of her underlying acting talent. She isn't outright beautiful or cute, but there is something attractive about her that makes the audience notice her. Here, she is given a sleepwalking role and clearly her talents are suitably wasted.
Another B-grade actor that has improved in 2006 must be that of Andrew Lin, whose at times overacting is compensated with deep underlying emotions. In films like Heavenly Kings, Undying Heart and now – Wife from Hell, Andrew is no longer emotionless and totally wooden, as he makes use of his limited ability by being more expressive. Sure this may lead to some exaggerated overacting, but luckily he is never to the point of annoyance as he is quite easy to watch. With that being said, this is probably his first juicy role and Lin handled it with full stead in what can be claimed as he best ever performance.
One must also mention the director, in most likely his first ever attempt, it is almost a full mark effort as he clearly translates on screen in the smoothness of the camera angles experimented and attempted. The scene of juxtaposition of the Heineken beer dripping to emptiness fits perfectly with the exact moment of sexual tension in Andrew Lin and the crazy seductive chick. It emphasizes intentionally or unintentionally about the random bar chick as just someone to enjoy temporary, like a bottle of beer, the effect does not last forever. Full credit to the terrific soundtrack done by the Japanese artist and once again the trying effort deserves some sort of complementation. One person of notable mention is the chick who plays the mysterious role of a prostitute. Her performance is noteworthy and her acting shows much promise. There is that sense of hotness about that seems to fascinate Neo and the constant use of numbers and time is clearly an asset to the film.
All in all, Wife From Hell isn't by all means straight forward or a film that make any sense. It is flawed, full of plot holes, but at least the filmmaker and the entire cast put in a trying effort and a clear attempt at experimental filmmaking. As I said before, this flick is probably not as good as I claim it to be, but it is clearly a par above what I expected. There are meaningful moments to be taken from it, but the manner that it attempted to reach the audience lack the vital emotional punch. Nonetheless, it is films like this that shows that there are still people in the industry that still care about filmmaking. Sure the destination may not be totally fulfilling, but the journey is certainly worth the effort. Once again, full credit for trying, even though the outcome could be better
Note: Something worth noting is that the two producers of this flick also produced the acclaimed Dog Bite Dog, the above average – Explosive City, the better than expected – Midnight Running. It is an odd duo – a Japanese in Shin Yoneyama and Sam Leung.
I rate it 6.5/10.