Song, Dance, and Financial Ruin: The Hong Kong Auteur’s Newest Genre Gamble
Johnnie To, the Hong Kong auteur known both for his mayhem-fueled crime sagas and his romantic romps, has added a new genre to his jack-of-all-trades repertoire: the musical.
Making its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, OFFICE tells the story of fictional Jones & Sunn, a major stock market player on the verge of going public. Facing the prospect of an audit, dramas ensue between a Chairman (played by Hong Kong legend Chow Yun-fat), his co-worker/mistress (MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART’s Sylvia Chang), and a company newcomer played by Wang Ziyi, as the tragedies and struggles of the 2008 financial financial crisis play out in the realm of song and dance.
OFFICE’s debut stateside has been met with praise. The AV Club‘s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky noted its visual milieu, featuring a set “Dazzlingly composed around massive wireframe sets, translucent cubes, and grids of intersecting lines that bring to mind both picture frames and prison bars.” Manohla Dargis of The New York Times praised OFFICE as another strong chapter in the dynamic career of its director, noting that “If Mr. To were an American, his name would fall from lips as easily as Martin Scorsese’s.” And on Rogerebert.com, Simon Abrams wrote of the film’s ability to “make… something as dire as a financial crisis seem like a natural subject for a modern musical.” Now there’s the mark of a guy who knows a thing or two about this moviemaking stuff.