Adelaide Film Festival 2020: The Calm Beyond

Image source: Adelaide Film Festival

Director: Joshua Wong

Five years have passed since a tsunami has ravaged Hong Kong, transforming the metropolis into a flooded dilapidated wasteland. Amid the debris survives Asha, a young women who found a safe haven in the top floors of a high rise that still stands. Fashioning contraptions from the rubbish that surrounds her, this resourceful protagonist is hiding from a gang of violent pirates, their intention unknown.

Asha’s years of isolation and solitude are interrupted by an urchin, who undoubtedly spent all her living memory in this destroyed city. A sisterly bond flourishes, which causes Asha to reflect on her shortcomings in the relationship with her true younger sister, who didn’t survive.

The Calm Beyond was punctuated by glowing slo-mo shots of Hong Kong before the disaster, Asha enjoying dinner with friends and sipping cocktails at a rooftop bar. When I found out the director, Joshua Wong, has also created many tv commercials and promotional films I wasn’t surprised.

One of the most interesting aspects of this film is that Josh also collaborated as the writer, producer, editor, and composer of the feature. If I heard correctly, I believe he also worked on the visual effects… A really impressive debut for a film of such ambition.

The majority of the central portion of the film was spent developing Asha’s relationship with her new found sister, but I also had a lot of unanswered questions. Why did this villainous gang want to attack this sole survivor? How hadn’t a rescue team found her in these last five years? As the threat from the lurking pirates is unknown, some suspense was lost and with it some of the film’s potential action. The last twenty minutes made up for the initial lack of action, and the final result was a rather satisfying pay off.

3.5/5

Milly Farmer

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