Boon Chan Assistant Life Editor and John Lui Film Correspondent recommend

Film Picks: By the Grace of God

Melvil Poupaud and Aurelia Petit star in By The Grace Of God.
Melvil Poupaud and Aurelia Petit star in By The Grace Of God.PHOTO: SINGAPORE FILM SOCIETY
Fagara
FagaraPHOTO: FILMGARDE CINEPLEXES
Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung
Rookie Historian Goo Hae-RyungPHOTO: NETFLIX
Weathering With You
Weathering With YouPHOTO: ENCORE FILMS

BY THE GRACE OF GOD (NC16)

137 minutes

This dramatisation of real events taking place in France now began with director Francois Ozon’s desire to make a film about men who have been damaged and are not afraid to show it. The three men at the centre of this story are damaged and the cause of it is that as children, they were sexually assaulted by a priest.
 

This work is a departure for the respected French film-maker, best known for work featuring strong women characters (8 Women, 2002; In The House, 2012). The men in the story band together to bring the priest to justice, but face a wall of personal and legal obstacles.

WHERE: Alliance Francaise de Singapour, 1 Sarkies Road MRT: Newton WHEN: Tuesday, 8pm (with post-screening Skype talk with a member of the organisation seeking justice for victims of paedophile priests in France) ADMISSION: $11 (member price is $9) INFO: afsingapour.extranet-aec.com/events/detail/2303

John Lui

FAGARA (PG)

118 minutes/3.5 stars

Travel agent Acacia (Sammi Cheng) is soured on love as in her line of work, she sees men heading to foreign lands to cheat on their wives.

With the death of her estranged father Ha Leung (Kenny Bee), she inherits his hot pot restaurant.

She wants to shut it down for good, partly to spite the man who abandoned his family in Hong Kong to seek his fortune – and a new family – in Taiwan.  

Then two strange women show up at his funeral – Cherry (Li Xiaofeng) from China and Branch (Megan Lai) from Taiwan – both claiming to be her half-sisters.

Heiward Mak, who co-wrote the well-received romance Love In A Puff (2010), lets the relationships among the newly acquainted half-sisters breathe and find their natural rhythms.

John Lui

ROOKIE HISTORIAN GOO HAE-RYUNG

Netflix/ 3.5 stars

At a time when women are not expected to do anything much, Goo Hae-ryung and three other noble ladies break the mould by becoming female historians of the royal court.  Not only do they have to deal with chauvinistic male colleagues and superiors, they also have to endure hazing by the other court ladies.

The engaging premise is brought to life by an able cast. Shin Se-kyung (right) imbues the role of the titular historian with dignity, intelligence and a streak of independent spirit.

And Astro boy band member Cha Eun-woo – known for the contemporary talking-point series My ID Is Gangnam Beauty (2018) – proves he is equally suited for period shows as the sheltered but good-hearted Prince Yi Rim.

Boon Chan

WEATHERING WITH YOU (PG)

112 minutes/ 3.5 stars

Hodaka (voiced by Kotaro Daigo), 16, runs away to Tokyo and ends up working at a small-time publisher. Given the unending spate of rain, he is tasked with finding a "sunshine girl". He meets Hina (voiced by Nana Mori), a teenager who can control the weather, and they come up with a money-making scheme by offering sunny skies.

But there is a price to pay for wielding magic.

The animation is lovely, depicting the familiar Japanese city as grey and wet or bathed in the glow of longed-for sunshine and the film does not ignore the darker side of life in a big city as Hina almost ends up working as a hostess and Hodaka has to sleep in the streets at one point.

Boon Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2019, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe