When teenager Yeung’s (Edan Lui) Chinese family gather for a winter solstice dinner everything goes disastrously wrong fracturing the family leading to eight years of estrangement and resent. However in the build-up to the winter solstice a visit from a distant cousin offers the opportunity to mend fences and reconnect despite all the problems that come with it. It’s the quintessential set up for a Chinese melodrama and Hong Kong Family happily settles into the tropes that come with it. Be it the stubbornly moral son, to the quiet and introspective daughter Ki (Hedwig Tam), Family seems set on existing within the boundaries of the genre it belongs to without pushing across them. That being said, director Eric Tsang gives more to his story with a vibrant eye for unconventional cinematography and the beauty in the quieter Hong Kong communities.
While Lui and Teresa Mo are stuck playing characters with little to no wiggle room as they are inhibited by a script that sticks its characters in narrative glue for most of the first two acts, Tam and Tse Kwan-ho are wonderfully under sung and their moments, be it a triumphant night time climb to the top of a mountain to regain a sense of independence or a simple act of repairing a remote controller, a final act of kindness before letting go gives each performer so much to work with and both take advantage. In fact Hong Kong Family feels like a film full of underdogs and wallflowers being highlighted, the soul of a family people had forgotten about. If Tsang’s film doesn’t quite feel like it sticks the landing, it proves interesting enough to be worth your time and that is in large part to a couple of outstanding performances and a visually striking picture of a family in crisis.