Lilting is a touching, intimate film about finding the things which bring us together. In contemporary London, a Cambodian Chinese mother mourns the untimely death of her son. Her world is further disrupted by the presence of a stranger. We observe their difficulties in trying to connect with one another without a common language, as through a translator they begin to piece together memories of a man they both loved.
ActorsStarring: Ben Whishaw, Cheng Pei-pei, Andrew Leung, Morven Christie, Naomi Christie, Peter Bowles, Shane Salter, Leila Wong
Junn is a Cambodian-Chinese mother who has lived in England for years but doesn’t speak any English. She is upset with her son Kai who has put her in a retirement home instead of having her live with him. But Kai is too afraid to tell her he is gay and living with his boyfriend Richard.
When Kai dies, to deal with his pain and loss, Richard reaches out to Junn. As they don’t share a common language, they communicate via a translator, Vann.
Lilting is a small movie about mourning, pain, and cultural sensitivities, but ultimately about human relationships. Ben Whishaw and Chen Pei-Pei are both very good in their roles repressing their emotions – but sometimes you wish they’d loosen up a little… that doesn’t happen much in this movie: it is slow, and sometimes slower than sluggish, and on top of that the setting is rather claustrophobic… Only the translator Vann offers some relief and her scenes also allow Richard to show more of himself.
There is something to enjoy here, which is Whishaw’s acting, but you have to be in the mood for a small and slow movie – it is not strong enough to win you over otherwise.