[Movie] No.7 Cherry Lane (2019)

  • Chinese Title: 繼園臺七號
  • Directed By: Yonfan
  • Voice Cast: Sylvia Chang, Zhao Wei, Alex Lam

Look how the golden years flowed away.

from the movie

The 1967 Hong Kong riots were large-scale riots led by local communists in Hong Kong against the British Hong Kong government, in the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China.

1967 Hong Kong riots – Wikipedia

It is a rare experience to watch a Chinese animation movie in the western world. The “No.7 Cherry Lane” is a unique animation that mixes memory, politics, nostalgia, and sensual desire in a tone of fantasy. The year is 1967, which is a turbulent year in Hong Kong. 

The graphics – especially background drawings – are superb, and the streets of Hong Kong in the 1960s are beautifully portraited. The animation seems based on the Japanese style but magically integrated with Chinese brushing styles. 

Even though Ziming, an English literature student, is a protagonist, he does not lead the plot or not the main character. He is an object of desire of people around him. Mrs. Yu, who is a self-exiled mother (in her early 40s) and struggles between the ideal and the reality, is the symbol of erotic desire. Meiling, an 18-year-old daughter, symbolizes youth, freedom, and self-esteem. Mrs. May, a retired diva, lives in a nostalgic past. By Mixing political turbulence and individual desires in wonderful drawings, the film leads viewers to their own fantasy world.

Unfortunately, the charm of the movie ends here. The pieces do not fit together into a whole. Even though the film was made in 2019, the directing seems out of date. The erotic desire of Mrs. Yu is distorted by a gaze of old male prejudices. The extraordinarily handsome main characters (in contrast with other characters) seem unrealistic and even silly. Political struggles are shadowed by propaganda communist images.

The movie had many potentials, but it is unfortunate to see the final version like this.

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