Film Review | Requiem for Romance (2012)

Requiem for Romance, a 2012 short film by Jonathan Ng, is a story about a phone call that penetrates the soul; a phone call which wrestles with the difficulties of romance, the generation gap, and the perceptions of the prevailing culture. Yun and Tsai are lovers who do not have the approval of Tsai’s parents. Faced with the anguish of this reality and a sense of filial obligation, Tsai decides it’s time to end the affair, but Yun fights to hold on to her.

Drawn in a style allusive of historical Chinese paintings and daubed with the effervescent backdrop of a wildly shifting set of expressionistic watercolours, director Ng has created a visual metaphor which befits that of a relationship burning to the ground in a fiery blaze. Depicted as an epic wushu fight between the opposing lovers, the film draws a comparison of the sharpness of words and the seriousness of their effect, with each lover vying to destroy the other in a bedlam of destruction which tears their inner selves apart.

Touching on the notions of fate and predestination, the film questions the nature of two people coming together at any given moment, and the possibility of a very definite reason for this collision, that imagines a cosmic connection with a greater reverberance than contemporary society might suggest. Illustrating the call as a timeless, larger-than-life struggle in ancient China also removes it from its modern transience, that comments both on the imprint of cultural heritage which informs the young, and the eternal likeness of love across time and space.

Finishing with a symbolic crane that flies off into the night, as though to support the adage, “if you love someone, set them free”, the film concludes on a sober tone of understanding, with the lovers finding a sense of peace amidst certain defeat, a shared moment which reminds them why they came together in the first place. A parallel of the jade blue waters that run with a silent persistence beneath their feet, it is an apt ending, that expresses the unwavering purity of love, and the unyielding vagaries of life.

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