NY/SF International Children’s Film Festival 2011 – Echoes of the Rainbow Review and Trailer

This film was frustrating.

The film is about a poor family in Hong Kong, struggling to survive, and about the two children of a shoemaker. One is 16 and talented, the other is 8 and a troublemaker. The 16-year old son begins faltering, and after he is injured in a typhoon he is brought to the hospital, where it turns out he has a terminal disease.

This sounds overall like it could be good, and it did have elements of a good film in it. But it is deeply flawed, and those flaws, unfortunately, tear away at this potentially great film.

My first impression of this film was that it was cute, in that the perspective is largely from the innocence of a rambunctious child in the beginning. As it continues, however, the perspective begins to shift away from the child to the adults as the events become too complicated for him to fathom; his innocence then becomes a side-plot, rather than the focus.

This lack of focus is one error. However, the greatest errors of the film are the editing, and the music choices. The editing was obnoxious and overly sentimental. They often used slow-motion which was shot at 24 frames per second instead of at a higher frame-rate, so it’s choppy – a technique which displays a sort of finality and drama to a scene. On top of this, we almost invariably had some sort of horrendous, tear-out-your-hair melodramatic and cheesy music choice which destroys the natural drama which is within the scenes.

If this was a one-time thing, it would be forgivable, but it was almost continuous throughout the film. If these were the choices of the director – my advice to you is watch more films and see how better editing and lighter music impacts the mood and feeling of the film. If they were choices of the editors – fire them immediately and never use them again. Good god, how bad that was at times.

However, there are moments in the film which are so real, so human, and so touching that somehow I made it through the film. And the cinematography, at times, is truly brilliant – like one long, sweeping crane shot which goes from table to table at a dinner scene in the little neighborhood. Also, the film gives a very interesting sense of Hong Kong culture, the English influence, and is a bit of a strong indictment against the corruption of the police and medical system.

What I am trying to say is that beneath the cheese, this is a good film, and if it was properly handled, nothing would have stopped it from being a fantastic film. If you have a fortified stomach, at the end of the film you might feel as I did. There are many gems in here, hidden away.

Showtimes for Echoes of the Rainbow:

Saturday, October 22 – 7:00pm (SFFS/New People Cinema – 1746 Post St.)

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