Posted in Reviews

DVD Review: Eve and the Fire Horse

Eve and the Fire Horse (2005) trailer
directed & written by Julia Kwan
starring Phoebe Kut, Hollie Lo, Vivian Wu, Lester Chan
English, Cantonese with English subtitles

Asian Canadian films are an extremely rare breed.  I can only name two other Asian Canadian films that I’ve seen (neither of which I thought were good).  Eve and the Fire Horse is the first one that I feel is very much worth watching and has won various festival awards including Sundance.  The film’s not perfect but when you hear the opening theme music you’ll find it hard not to be charmed.  Eve and the Fire Horse focuses on a Chinese family, in particular Eve and her older sister Karena who are in elementary school.  Their parents practice Buddhist rituals but when the girls are introduced to Catholicism, they decide to adopt this new religion.  While Karena fully embraces Catholicism, Eve is more questioning of it as she tries to resolve the conflicting beliefs of the two very different religions.

What I liked most about this film were the two girls (ages 9 & 11 at the time) who never acted before yet were completely believable as young sisters.  The way they would interpret things literally rang very true.  When they were sad you couldn’t help but want to hug them.  One detail I liked was when one of the girls was wearing a poncho because I remember wearing one around the same age too.

One thing that might go against the film is the lack of drama.  Events that could cause tension or conflict in the family seem to come and leave without much notice.  I didn’t necessarily have an issue with this but one plot thread seemed to have been forgotten completely except for a very brief scene that comes much later on and even then its not really clear.  A bit less vagueness in the plotting would’ve helped.  Then there’s the last scene of the film which puzzles me greatly.  Another criticism I have has to do with the grandmother who mixes both Cantonese and Mandarin in her dialogue. In spite of all this, the story accurately captures both the reality and the fantastical whimsy of childhood.

Some notes about the dvd which you can purchase from the official site.  It supports 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and dolby digital 5.1.  Other than some noticeable graininess up close the film looks fine and there are actually a few instances where you will notice the 5.1 surround sound. Also included is an earlier short directed by Kwan titled, Three Sisters on Moon Lake.

This film is available to borrow from McGill library.

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Author:

Longtime fan of East Asian films. Former "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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