Sherry Tao, Lynn Chia, Yong Jun, Patricia Hwan
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Movie Review: How to Love You
Writer/director Bridgette Ong's How to Love You is set within the Asian culture's slow transition toward a more accepting, inclusive culture as it tells the story of Evelynn (Lynn Chia), a teenager who's long had a close relationship with her conservative but loving mother, Mary (Sherry Tao). Over the Lunar New Year, however, Mary discovers her daughter's sexuality and thus begins a just shy of 15-minute tale of the clash between mother and daughter amidst shifting cultural norms and parental expectations.
How to Love You recently picked up a prize for Best Storyblocks at the All American High School Film Festival, a fact that should tell you that the young Ong has accomplished quite a bit here for such a young filmmaker. The film was also nominated for the fest's Best International Feature prize.
How to Love You soars on the strength of Tao's performance as Mary, whose love for her daughter is obvious even if it is very much confronted when Evelynn's relationship with Avery (Patricia Hwan) is discovered and confronted. This is the second similarly themed film I've seen in recent months, an unsurprising fact given the shifting views regarding LGBTQ in Asian nations such as Singapore (where Ong is from and where the film is shot), Taiwan, Thailand, and others.
While Tao's is undeniably the strongest performance here, the entire ensemble performs admirably in getting the film's powerful message across. Javen Leong's lensing for the film is beautifully framed and intimate in its impact. The original music by Jethro Caniedo similarly companions the film's memorable storytelling quite nicely.
There are a couple of moments when How to Love You doesn't quite carry the emotional resonance one might expect, for example the supermarket confrontation scene comes to mind, but How to Love You is a truly impressive effort by a first-time filmmaker who shows quite a bit of promise.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic