Five Flavours 2015 Review: LAZY HAZY CRAZY, A Carnal And Vivacious HK Youth Film
Follies of youth, burgeoning passions and ephemeral connections form the backbone of Luk Yee-sum's sensational debut Lazy Hazy Crazy. Set in a Hong Kong that has seldom been seen on the big screen, here is a film that feels uniquely of its time, a contemporary work that lends its young protagonists a particularly frank voice.
A typical image welcomes us into Lazy Hazy Crazy, as a voiceover directs our attention to three teenage girls frolicking in slow motion against a hazy summer glow atop their school's roof. But this hallmark of the Asian youth film is soon turned on its head when the images on screen are accompanied with the honest discussions of how much one of the girls charges for 'extra services'. "HK$600 for a blowjob, but they can't come inside my mouth." The conversations, which feature a character nicknamed Cheap Cunt, only get more lewd after that.
Luk's work is a coming of age film, but, unusually for its genre, most of the protagonists are already sexually mature. Not only are they desensitized to the pleasures of the flesh, they are also adept at wheeling and dealing with their clients. Their situations are adult, yet they are still emotionally vulnerable, particularly towards each other, as they inadvertently hurt and betray one another over the course of the story.
Teenage prostitution may provide the main framework, but Luk's work is at heart a story about three young women, and how they cope with their confusing and at times lonely transitions into adulthood. While prior HK youth films, or even the current indie youth fare emanating from nearby Korea, would normally present underage prostitution as a pariah, Lazy Hazy Crazy seeks not to excoriate society for creating these circumstances. The girls are in control of their fates and the johns are neither callous nor violent. Furthermore, their motivations are only partly pecuniary. Prior to writing her script, Luk conducted interviews with around 50 teenage prostitutes in HK, and by and large, the reasons for selling their bodies had more to do with keeping loneliness at bay or establishing independence than making ends meet. That said, the film also features a strong streak of exploitation as the film fetishizes the pre-pubescent bodies on display again and again.
Lazy Hazy Crazy, through its combination of colourful cinematography and social eloquence, brings to mind another surprising HK film from recent memory, Pang Ho-cheung's personal project Aberdeen. Prior to this, Luk wrote a number of Pang's films, including fan favourite Vulgaria (2012). He serves as a producer here, but while Aberdeen and Lazy Hazy Crazy both mark a departure from traditional HK cinema, each work offers a singular perspective.
Abound with glowing hues and airy compositions, Lazy Hazy Crazy is a beautiful work to look at, with visuals and a bouncy style that are both technically proficient and reflective of the emotions of the characters as they journey through the narrative. Most importantly, the film excels in its young cast, with three actresses (Kwok Yik-sum, Mak Tsz-yi and Fish Liew) who pulsate with life, push and pull at all that surrounds them, and each appear as fully rounded characters.
Engaging throughout, the film only stumbles in its third act, when a few trite plot devices (involving love triangles and pets) do some disservice to the excellent character work until then. Yet the film still ends on a strong note, and this slightly distended finale can be forgiven in a coda that looks to an uncertain yet in no way foreboding future. A strong debut with a unique voice, Lazy Hazy Crazy is a promising calling card for Luk, whose next work will surely be something to look forward to.
Lazy Hazy Crazy
- Yee-sum Luk
- Yee-sum Luk (screenplay)
- Dada Chan
- Ashina Kwok
- Fish Liew
- Koyi Mak