I don't want to rain on this young director's parade too much. She's obviously smart, and a major talent (more so in some areas than others), and she's going to be a major player in Hong Kong's film industry. I like what I took to be the main theme of this film, we are our histories, but the story is interrupted by an over zealous directorial hand. I wanted to settle into the hearts and minds of the characters but the MTV generation style camerawork and editing (and I don't mean that as insult or insinuation, necessarily) wouldn't let me.
Gillian Chung does a fine job as the film's protagonist, Zhou Yi, a young woman who has just broken up with her boyfriend, or is about to break up with him as the film begins. An ex, Ping, is at the next table with his current girlfriend, Cee, and witnesses said breakup. A whole bunch of coincidental circumstances are packed together in the film's opening scenes so that we can get to the scenario where Zhou Yi moves in with Ping and Cee. Flashbacks and memories abound, infuse, and confuse, as a portrait of a young woman in the throes of a recent break-up collides with a portrait of a young man who happens to be an ex and whose life may or may not be anything more than his next break-up waiting to happen. It's got the makings of some juicy plot opportunities, some of which are realized, but it never relaxes enough into the story for an inviting overall picture to come to the surface and take over. Also, antagonism is too often demonstrated through volume in the film. I understand that this is a twenty-something reality but listening to a lot of fighting and whining in high decibel Cantonese isn't the most pleasant experience. I knew from the opening scene's musical soundtrack that my audible wavelength was not in tune with the director's. And things didn't change. The whole soundtrack sucks.
Honestly, if I had seen this film in a theater full of like-generational people to the film's players—in Hong Kong, no less—my watching energy might have ramped up to the director's style and I might have found myself swimming along joyously, but such was not the case. I'm going to keep an eye on Heiward Mak but Ex was not a fulfilling film experience. The director has brains and chops but maturity hasn't kicked in yet.
Starring: Gillian Chung, William Chan Wai-Ting, Michelle Wai, Lawrence Chou, Jacky Heung