Funeral March: ”Don’t be so sad, if you’re too sad. The spirit of your relative will feel bound to this world.”

Year: 2001
Directed by Joe Ma
Produced by Gordon Chan
Written by Joe Ma, Sunny Chan and Chan Gam-Kuen
Cast: Eason Chan,Charlene Choi,Kenneth Tsang,Liu Kai-Chi and Candy Lo

A young woman dying of cancer hires a funeral director because she is certain she will die. But, the two make a connection that changes their lives forever.

The plot summary of the Funeral March mildly reeks of a black comedy or even a satire, but you would be wrong. It is actually a tender story about how to respond to life-threatening conditions. It isn’t a unique story, and it remains a bit cliched for most of the time. Afterall, this whole setup has been done more than enough times and there were even a few films with similar undertones at the time of this film in Hong Kong.

While Funeral March doesn’t stand above up those films, it has enough emotional resonance to stand shoulder to shoulder with those type of films though.

Funeral March is rooted in melancholy, but there is something cheerful is seeing Charlene Choi’s sweet face light up with a smile. Even the colors rather a bit muddled with a big focus on blues. No matter if the story shifts to New York or Hong Kong. The seas are an interesting narrative highlight as the sea appears to represent important moments in their journey.

Yee, the movie’s protagonist, is one of Charlene Choi’s first starting roles. Her performance of Yee has the makings of a great actress. Yee has this gloomy expression usually, but her gloominess rather a sign of her inner development. Yee’s gloominess shifts from being self-centered to something more mature.

Duan is a man who walks with death as a funeral director. Death dominates his life. He’s stoic to an edge, but he is more vulnerable than one might assume he is. His importance is that he acts as an important life mentor for Yee than beyond just being a love interest.

Up until Funeral March reaches a particular moment near its endpoint that the plot really shines through. Until this moment while the drama works, it can feel overdone. Once this certain revelation is revealed, it becomes a game-changer. You truly view the whole narrative in a different light subsequently. The twist doesn’t exist for pure shock value, but changes the dynamics of Yee’s development. Yee’s maturity gained afterward allows the movie to come ahead with a down to earth message that has a solid real world resonance.

Funeral March is a melancholic tale that does fall on the cliched side a bit. Yet,  it marches on to tell a tale that resonates a mature message due to solid character development.

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