Review: Mama’s Affair

Written and directed by Kearen Pang, as Mei-Fung, housewife and former top artiste manager, discovers a new star in Ching, she also draws jealousy from her teenage son Hin. A single mother struggles to find balance between her family and her career. Starring: Teresa Mo, Keung To, Jer Ying-Ting Lau, Ka-Ki Sham and Lai-Ying Tang.

Two generations meeting, one whose dreams seem an impossibility and another who’s contemplating what they’ve missed out on, is a classic combination and for good reason. Bringing together different people in a sweet turn of fate is lovingly satisfying and that’s what you get from Mama’s Affair. While it may hit upon cliches along the way, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a genuinely touching story. The characters build up a fantastic friendship and it really leans into the musical element, rather than skipping to success like many other films have. It’s also initially surprising to see the runtime coming in at just over two hours and yet it pulls it off well. It may move slowly but its charm only becomes stronger as time goes on, and draws you further into this story. It may not have many deep complex emotions to offer but that’s not what it’s going for, it’s a story about family, dreams and following the right path for yourself.

Directorially Kearen Pang gives you everything that you’d expect of this film, it could perhaps do without the overtly sentimental montages and heavy handed fading transitions but otherwise it hits the nail on the head. The pace is slow but steady, there’s plenty happening even if it’s not immediate and it moves back and forth between the dramatic elements and the music to keep a nice balance. It gives each of its key trio of characters a good amount of time onscreen to develop their characters and a feel of individuality. It does exactly what it needs to do, and fits the tone of the story perfectly.

Those leading three are a good mix of actors, Teresa Mo, Keung To, Jer Ying-Ting Lau, they’re different and yet fit together nicely as pieces of the same puzzle. Their performances are a key part of the film’s strong charm, especially from Mo’s never-ending enthusiasm mixed with an emotional vulnerability and insecurity. Added to To providing a genuinely humble nature to Fong Ching, he’s kind and shy, exactly the type of person you can easily root for to succeed, an underdog who won’t let fame go to his head. While Lau gives us the typical teenager, struggling with his parents separation and not quite sure where to direct that frustration, pushing his mother away in the process. Each of them bring a loving feel and it’s incredibly wholesome, which is something you can always use more of in a generally cynical world.

Mama’s Affair is colourful, fun, charming and just the right level of cheesy, it’s aware of its cliches and embraces them to create something enthusiastically wholesome. It’s surprisingly engaging, the runtime seems daunting at first but other than few unnecessary moments, it uses it well. There’s a great cast at its heart and they’re supported by a superb supporting cast who bring a huge amount of energy. It throws a lot of love behind its musical element and finds a satisfying balance between the quest for success and family drama.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

In UK cinemas from 19th August

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